A town hall meeting has been scheduled on Aug. 8 to discuss plans that would leave more than 100,000 tons of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake area. (File photo)

Meeting in Shawnigan Lake to discuss contaminated soil

Closure plans call for leaving more than 100,000 tons of soil in place

A community town hall meeting will be held on Aug. 8 to discuss the final closure plan of the contaminated soil project in Shawnigan Lake.

Many in the community who fought for years to have the controversial contaminated soil site shut down are concerned that the closure plan, announced by the provincial government on July 2, doesn’t call for the removal of about 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil from the site on Stebbings Road.

RELATED STORY: GOVERNMENT OKs CONTAMINATED SOIL AT SHAWNIGAN TO REMAIN

The plan also calls for trucking in 70,000 additional tonnes of industrial grade fill to help cap the existing soil.

Sierra Acton, the director for Shawnigan Lake at the Cowichan Valley Regional District, is hosting the town hall meeting, which will be held at Shawnigan Lake Community Centre at 7 p.m.

She said the meeting is intended for the community to discuss what has been done, and what more can be done in efforts to have the soil removed.

“People are in shock about this decision,” Acton said.

“It was not expected. We now need to get organized, change gears and come to some decisions as to what we will do next. It will be up to the community to decide.”

It’s been more than two years since the controversial landfill finally closed when its operating permit was pulled from its owners, Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates, by the province after years of lawsuits and demonstrations.

RELATED STORY: SOIL COMPANIES TO CLOSE SHAWNIGAN CONTAMINATED SOIL QUARRY PERMANENTLY

It’s also been more than a year since members of the Shawnigan Residents Association and their supporters took to the streets for their “Rally for Removal” event that called for all the contaminated soil at the closed site to be removed as soon as possible.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN RESIDENTS RALLYING TO DEMAND CONTAMINATED SOIL REMOVAL

The main fear is that any spill of contaminants from the soil at the landfill, located on Stebbings Road, will leach into the local drinking water.

Many residents are skeptical of statements by the provincial government that leaving the soil at the site as part of the final closure plan, which will be conducted by the site’s owners, is safe.

Acton said Sonia Furstenau, the MLA for the Cowichan Valley, who was one of the leaders of the campaign to shut down the contaminated soil site when she was the director for Shawnigan Lake at the CVRD, will be at the meeting to answer questions, as well as members of the Shawnigan Research Group.

“We want the government and the site’s owners to know that we’re still watching,” she said.

“This is not over until the soil is removed and the site is cleaned up. We’re hoping for a good turnout at the meeting.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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