Independent peer review was ignored in granting of SIA dumping permit

Victoria – Dear Minister Mary Polak: Recently I heard you being interviewed by Gregor Craigie on CBC radio, when you were discussing the permit to dump contaminated soils and waste in the Shawnigan watershed.

Several times you referred to the “science” supporting this permit granted to South Island Aggregates.

At first I was asking “What science?” because the review provided by SIA was denigrated by a number of independent scientists.

I am neither a geologist nor hydrologist, but having spent 28 years as a federal (Canadian Forest Service) research scientist I am very well aware of the need for, and critical value of, peer review of all scientific documents. To accomplish this I had previously earned three scientific degrees – BSc (Forestry), Masters Degree (Forestry), and PhD (Forestry).

It appears that you have completely ignored this vital step in the process of establishing a scientific basis for claiming anything. Especially concerning this particular issue.

Is this because your personal scientific background is minimal? Nevertheless you, and members of the Environmental Appeal Board, should have paid more attention to the independent peer reviewers in this case, and not merely accepted the views of the non-independent, in-house (SIA) staff reports.

You may be aware that Justice Rennie, commenting on a federal fish farming issue, stated that the Minister of Fisheries cannot make unsupported statements of science. Does not the same requirement apply to a provincial Minister of the Environment? As I implied above, science without supporting evidence is junk.

You will have received numerous other letters concerning this matter so I will not repeat any of the details. My sole objective in writing to you is to ask you, as the Honourable Minister, to do the honorable thing and see that this permit is cancelled, forthwith as soon as possible.

D.G.W. Edwards