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2006 06 07
Clean Dirt

While taking the dog on his usual perambulation around 'our' section of the Lachine Canal, we usually walk by a strange office-type building. The place is called the Centre d'Excellence de Montréal en Réhabilitation de Sites (CEMRS).

Today, on a whim, we finally decided to go in a have a look around. The sort of 'tradeshowish' looking displays inside tell the story of how the soil outside the building has been, and is being, reconditioned. Turns out the "office" is actually a research facility devoted to soil remediation.

One of the unfortunate remnants of the Lachine Canal's long and illustrious industrial history is a nasty earthbound chemical cocktail that continues to release its polutants. Diesel fuel, heavy metals, dioxins, and other treats await anyone interested enough to start digging.

In conjunction with the Lachine Canal's conversion to a National Park, some of the areas adjacent to it are being used as test sites by CEMR in an innovative, years-long experiment in cleaning the soil known as phytoremediation. This process involves the selective propagation of plant species that have the capacity to "clean" the soil as they grow.

Drop into the museum to learn more. It's about a five minute walk west of the Atwater market on the south side of the canal. Or better yet, just walk around outside the place to see the rows of sample plantings, hard at work.
[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 06/07 at 05:09 PM

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