Contaminated soil must go, says Shawnigan Residents Association

“The fact is that the soil should never have been brought to the site in the first place.”

The Shawnigan Residents Association is determined to have the contaminated soil at the controversial landfill near Shawnigan Lake removed.

SRA president Calvin Cook said numerous scientific and technical reports that were prepared before and during the operation of the landfill, owned by Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates, concluded that the site was unsuitable for the purpose.

Cook said the companies have always maintained that the liners the soil is placed in will protect the environment, but he and his group contend that evidence has confirmed that this is not the case.

“The fact is that the soil should never have been brought to the site in the first place,” he said.

“We estimate there is about 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil there now, and we’re committed to getting it all out of there. There are more suitable locations than this where the soil can be taken.”

The owners of Cobble Hill Holdings acknowledged earlier this week that they won’t seek to have the landfill’s operating permit restored after Environment Minister Mary Polak pulled it last month.

Polak said she cancelled the permit because the companies failed to provide the province with adjusted financial security reports by a set deadline, but the owners blamed it on politics as the provincial election looms in May, and have threatened to sue to recoup millions of dollars in losses.

Cook said the SRA’s trust in the government and regulatory system has also been “fractured” over the issue of the landfill, which has been at the centre of numerous court cases over the years.

But he said the association is trying to be “proactive” and has been in contact with Polak’s ministry on the future of the site.

“If they intend to leave the soil there, that won’t work for the community,” Cook said.

“The proponents are saying it’s benign, but if that’s the case, then why bring it here in the first place to be encapsulated and strictly monitored? We won’t rest until it’s removed.”

Ministry officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

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