CVRD asks government to push pause button on contaminated soils

CVRD Chair Rob Hutchins is asking Environment Minister Terry Lake to push the pause button processing applications for soil relocation

CVRD Chair Rob Hutchins is asking Environment Minister Terry Lake to push the pause button on processing applications for soil relocation and for treatment of contaminated soils in the Cowichan Valley.

Hutchins’ request comes as yet another application is under consideration by the provincial government. This one is to dump about 1,450 truckloads of contaminated soil in the Cowichan Valley for treatment at the Evans Gravel Pit on Koksilah Road.

“In keeping with the collaborative and co-operative approach we have been taking with the provincial government in dealing with contaminated soils being relocated to the Cowichan Valley, it is important we work to find satisfactory solutions to this problem and not have to be constantly dealing with new and additional proposals to move more contaminated soil into our area,” Hutchins said. “The Minister has within his authority the ability to instruct staff to place a hold on all applications dealing with contaminated soil going to or being treated in the Cowichan Valley.”

The CVRD has taken a position of firm opposition to the South Island Aggregates application to treat contaminated soils at its quarry location in the Shawnigan area. The CVRD has passed a resolution rejecting all deposition or treatment of contaminated soils in domestic water supply watersheds in the Regional District.

The CVRD has also raised the alarm over more than a dozen unregistered soil dumping sites in the South Cowichan area and is working with the Ministry of Environment to determine the levels of risk that may exist.

The latest application involves contaminated soils being excavated from the Canadian Forces base at Esquimalt and being transported to the Koksilah Road site for treatment. It is projected that it will take over a year to transport all that soil over the Malahat.

Loren Duncan, Director, Electoral Area E, Cowichan Station / Sahtlam / Glenora, said his primary objective is to protect the aquifer and the potable water supply for upwards of 30,000 people who depend on it.

“The maps supplied with this application show that the proposal calls for the soil to be deposited within metres of the confluence of the Koksilah River and Kelvin Creek,” Duncan said. “It’s simply not acceptable to put that water and the aquifer beneath it at risk.”