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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: Stadium’s sevens stain seeps from sewer to saltchuck

Exclusive: Stadium’s sevens stain seeps from sewer to saltchuck


Bob Mackin 

After tens of thousands of rugby sevens fans were done painting the town red earlier this month, B.C. Place Stadium crews turned False Creek pink. And then white. Literally.

Fiji defeated Kenya to win the third HSBC World Rugby Canada Sevens on March 11. Four days later, on March 15, Vancouver’s fire department was called about a mysterious pink discharge floating in False Creek. City staff confirmed that it was flowing from a storm sewer outfall and they traced the source to B.C. Place Stadium, where red was the dominant colour for midfield sponsor and event logos on the Polytan Ligaturf synthetic pitch. 

Canada finished 14th at Canada Sevens after losing to Samoa. Pitch paint from sponsor logos ended up in False Creek. (Bob Mackin)

“The material was observed to dissipate quickly and no material was observed collecting along the shoreline,” wrote city spokeswoman Ellie Lambert in a prepared statement. “The remaining material that had collected in the storm sewer was removed and discharged to the sanitary sewer. B.C. Place is investigating how the discharge occurred [and] is working collaboratively with the city.”

A day later, on March 16, there was a second discharge. This time it was white. 

“City crews attended this discharge and residual material removed from the storm sewer system,” Lambert said. “B.C. Place is investigating how both discharges occurred and believe that both discharges resulted from similar causes. As noted, the city is following up with BC Place to ensure that remedial action is taken to avoid future occurrences.”

The material was TempLine Original, a field-marking paint from Seattle-based EcoChemical. B.C. Place spokeswoman Laura Ballance said the paint is designed for both artificial turf and natural grass fields. 

“With outdoor fields the paint washes away over time, and outdoor turf fields are built above storm drains and the paint slowly washes away,” Ballance told theBreaker. “At B.C. Place, the field is also built above drains but they actually extract the paint and then wash the turf when they change out the logos and lines for different events.”

Red paint was applied heavier than normal, she said. When the marking was eradicated, some of the residual paint went out with the water.  

Boaters are banned from dumping oil, sewage and waste into False Creek. Vancouver city hall wants to make the waterway safe for swimming this summer, which could be easier said than done.

False Creek East had the worst e-coli count on every Vancouver Coastal Health water quality report in 2017. It is the only beach area with a “not a swimming/bathing beach” and “wash hands and shower if you touch the water” warning. 

Canada Sevens returns to B.C. Place in 2019, as organizers are bidding for another four-year contract. The Canada Women’s Sevens are May 12-13 in Langford, near Victoria. 

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