Opponents of Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil dump spreading fear, operator says

The company that operates a controversial landfill is speaking out about what it calls a campaign of misinformation about its operation.

Quarry site has a permit from the province to accept contaminated soil

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      The company that operates a controversial landfill for contaminated soil in Shawnigan Lake, B.C., is speaking out about what it calls a campaign of misinformation about its operation.

      The quarry site has a permit from the province to accept contaminated soil as part of its mine reclamation plan. The soil will eventually fill in the hole left by the quarry.

      "If I had concerns that there was any chance that we were going to pollute somebody's water, we would shut this place down ourselves," said Todd Mizuik, co-owner of South Island Resource Management, which operates the site.

      People who live in the picturesque village on Vancouver Island have long fought the project over concerns that contaminants from the soil will end up in the lake and taint their drinking water.

      They contend the province ignored the concerns of residents and local politicians when it allowed the operation, which is located on a hill above the lake.

      The residents association for the area is back in court this week making another attempt to shut it down.

      But fears that contamination from the tightly controlled site will poison the watershed are unfounded, said Mizuik, adding that the increasingly vocal campaign against the operation is hurting the business.

      "It is spreading unnecessary fear in the community," he said. "And more importantly, I think people need to educate themselves on really what is happening."

      Residents say concerns are valid

      The accusation that opponents are spreading misinformation doesn't sit well with Sonia Furstenau, the Shawnigan Lake director with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

      "Everything that we have been saying and putting into the press is backed up with evidence," she said.

      "The location is not an appropriate location for a contaminated landfill."

      The provincial government has been testing the water and says levels of chemicals leaving the site are within provincial standards, or naturally occurring in the soil. 

      But other tests have shown increasing levels of things such as iron, manganese, sodium and sulphurs in water around the site, Furstenau said

      To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Fears over Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil dump unfounded, company says.


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