British Columbia

Toxic waste from grow-ops threatens B.C. water

Hundreds of huge pot plantations in the B.C. interior are dumping toxic waste on rural land, creating dangerous cesspools that threaten to contaminate ground water sources.
The RCMP say one pool of toxic waste from a marijuana grow operation busted near Williams Lake failed to freeze, even when the temperature dropped to -21 degress Celcius. ((RCMP))

Hundreds of huge pot plantations in the B.C. interior are dumping toxic waste on rural land, creating dangerous cesspools that threaten to contaminate ground water sources.

According to RCMP Staff Sgt Warren Brown, the Mounties have shut down 34 giant grow-ops in the Cariboo region alone in recent months, leaving behind 34 toxic pools, including one pool so contaminated it failed to freeze at – 21 degrees Celsius.

"It's some kind of concocted mix," said Brown, who says the toxic cesspools are contaminated with a mix of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and diesel fuel.

The waste sites are often located close to streams, ponds, and wetlands, says Brown.

"I don't think we're aware yet, what sort of devastation it may have," said Brown. "Ranchers here are very concerned their cattle could eat or drink something that's contaminated."

"The streams, the aquifers, what it may do to wildlife, fish, what long lasting effects it might have — we've just begun to scratch the surface to see what direct harm this may have."

No clean-up underway

But Brown says the RCMP are not trained or funded to clean up these chemical dumps, and no one in B.C. is responsible for cleaning up these chemical ponds. He hopes the Environment Ministry will step in.

No one from the Environment Ministry was available to comment, but Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson says he's concerned.

"It's going to end up being a toxic legacy if we don't address it," said Simpson.

"We have contaminated soil, we have the potential for contaminating the water table, truly, almost a permanent toxic legacy," he said.

 

 

 

 

 

With files from Betsy Trumpener