Steep banks with water at the bottom, your typical dumping ground from 50+ years ago. Today some of those dumps are getting cleaned up.
On Saturday, September 21 I volunteered to help Eco Divers Thunder bay (Facebook: Eco Divers Thunder Bay) in the clean-up of the Nipigon Lagoon.
The Lagoon is an area in the river where the Nipigon used to flow however it was dammed off and re-routed ages ago for the CN Rail line and highway bridges. The Lagoons steep banks and proximity to the town lead it to be used as a dumping ground for local business’s and individuals, I don’t judge as historically this was done everywhere, without concern or foresight, it was the established norm.
Lagoon Locations and activities. The historic river location was dammed off to build the CN rail line
which was used as a base of operations.
Of particular note was the location of an old garage at the top of the hill, where tires and other junk was rumoured to have been freely thrown down the hill into the lagoon and forgotten about. Decades of dumping likely took place resulting in tons of debris at the base of the hill and in the lagoon itself.
Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey arranged for Eco Divers Thunder Bay to dive on the location and spend a day of cleaning some of the debris from the area. After a previous dive to clean up the Nipigon marina, they agreed to visit Nipigon again on September 21, 2013.
Gathering at 10am, with local volunteers manning boats and shore support, the divers headed across the lagoon from the abandoned CN train bed where debris could easily be gathered and trucked from the area. After a brief safety talk and equipment checks, the dive began.
The air temperature was colder than the water temperature and with a brisk northerly wind bringing drizzle, small rain showers and intermittent sunny breaks mad it extra interesting for the shore crew exposed on the railway bed.
Divers would dive in shallow water at the base of the hill, gather debris and bring it to the surface where it would be loaded into the waiting boats and ferried to the rail-bed where the shore volunteers would empty the boats and pile the debris for future removal.
After multiple trips for the next 5 hours or so, boatloads of tires as well as other discarded materials made its way up onto shore. Tires full of muck tend to be heavy, some likely dating back to the 30’s were wrestled onto shore from the boats.
A wooden wheeled horse wagon axle was located and attempted to be recovered however was left for a later dive date due to to not having the proper equipment. Should be an interesting salvage when it finally comes to the surface.
With 107 tires removed as well as toys, bike, stroller pieces, car parts, tire rims, unidentifiable metal fragments all removed, there are still many trips worth of debris to be removed. Plans are already underway for a return trip.
Divers head across the Lagoon for another Dive
Three boats help the divers bring debris up from the base of the steep banks in the Nipigon Lagoon.
107 tires removed, still lots for future trips. Volunteers and divers.
Old stoves, tire rims, strollers, toys…….
Sand and silt gets everywhere. Boat needs a washing after the dives.