The contaminated soil problem is still with us

Shawnigan Lake – It is an insult to the collective intelligence of the 8,000-plus residents of Shawnigan Lake affected by the SIA decision to dump contaminated soil in our watershed that Minister of the Environment Mary Polack has hidden behind the “it’s before the courts” argument to avoid comment or make decisions. The allure of millions of development dollars, and the elimination of a problem for federal, provincial and Victoria politicians, are what is driving this project. The rights, health risks, and loss of property value to local residents, and the stain on a growing organic farming industry in the Valley, are simply “collateral damage” to the decision makers.

It has been asserted that the project would benefit the south Island by helping to eliminate the illegal dumping of contaminated soils in numerous dumps. In effect, what they are saying is “we won’t help clean up the Valley…we will just dump all of the crap in Shawnigan,” thereby risking the pollution of a drinking water reservoir.

The statement that “what they plan to dump is benign” does not jive with the permit. The permit states, “the types of soil that can be discharged at the landfill facility are soils and associated ash contaminated with Inorganic Substances (including metals),

Dioxins, Furans, BTEX, MTBE, VPHs, LEPH/HEPH, PAHs, styrene, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Phenolic Substances, chloride, sodium and Glycols as defined in Schedules 4 and 5 of the CSR”.

This has cost the Shawnigan Residents Association nearly $600,000 in legal fees so far, with no resolution at this date. It seems that Mary Pollack et al are hoping to drag out the proceedings to kill us over time with legal bills, in order to get their way.

The SRA welcomes help from the whole Cowichan Valley to continue the battle. Visit our website at www.thesra.ca

Al Brunet

Shawnigan Lake