Contaminated soil dump at Shawnigan Lake compliant after 22K litres leak, environment minister says
Environment Minister says "political problem" doesn't justify closing site
British Columbia's environment minister says she is satisfied a contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan Lake is complying with a Pollution Prevention Order after more than 22,000 litres of untreated water leaked from the site last week.
The site above the lake was forced to take extra steps to control pollution after heavy rains eroded a sand cover, allowing runoff to make contact with contaminated soil before escaping the property.
B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak says ministry staff watched the site carefully as storms battered the region last week and no more problems were observed.
However, some residents want the site's operating permit pulled after the latest incident.
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"Our system works in such a way that it avoids political interference."
Cobble Hill Holdings was ordered to put a cover on the soil dump or do a better job maintaining ditches around the site in a Pollution Prevention Order issued Oct. 12.
A new photograph of the soil dump on the Ministry of Environment website, posted Oct. 17, shows the large mound of soil on the site covered in plastic and secured with tires.
Residents remain worried
Residents who oppose the contaminated soil dump remain worried that leakage from the dump could contaminate their water supply.
Calvin Cook with the Shawnigan Residents Association questioned why the soil dump is still operating despite several violations at the site over the past two years.
"Every time someone makes a statement that our interests will be protected, we find the exact opposite happens and we are placed at further risk," Cook said.
No health or safety risk to residents
Polak said the site will continue to be monitored.
"There is no concern for the health or safety of residents," she said.
Meanwhile, she said, ministry officials "have the power to shut down a site immediately and I have the authority to pull the permit if staff believe that that is something they should recommend I do."
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
With files from Megan Thomas and CBC Radio One's On The Island
To hear the interview with Environment Minister Mary Polak on CBC's On the Island program click on the link labelled: Minister says contaminated soil dump cleans up after untreated water leaks