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Victoria chapter protests toxic soil being dumped by drinking water


Victoria chapter
Photo: The protest outside the Environmental Appeal Board hearing yesterday.

The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter protested against the dumping of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake area yesterday.

Shawnigan Lake is located about 48 kilometres north of Victoria in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Global News reports, “Over 1000 people held a rally at the legislature today to protest a new dump site in the Shawnigan Lake area for contaminated soil. …The site, a former rock quarry, will now receive up to 100,000 tons of contaminated soil per year for fifty years. It’s outraged many in the community, but the project operated by South Island Aggregates received a permit from the provincial government months ago.”

CHEK News adds, “The company’s plans to receive contaminated fill at the site have been the centre of fierce opposition from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and residents of Shawnigan Lake. They fear toxic chemicals could leach from the site and contaminate their watershed. {So far, 15,283 people have signed a] petition to Environment Minister Mary Polak, asking her to overturn the company’s permit.”

BC NDP leader John Horgan said at the rally, “It’s a bad idea to put toxic soils in a watershed looking down on the drinking water for 12,000 people.”

And Shawnigan Lake resident Steve Houser recently wrote in the Times Colonist, “Common sense should tell anyone that dumping nasty contaminants on top of an aquifer, beside a creek leading to a community’s drinking water, makes no sense. …South Island Aggregates, claimed their dump is on top of impermeable bedrock 75 metres thick, with no chance of toxic leachate seeping into the water supply. The Environment Ministry accepted this, not because it did its own studies but because SIA’s engineers said it was so. [In reality, there are] strong indications the dump sits on fractured limestone very likely to leak.”

This has been an ongoing fight.

In March 2014, the Victoria chapter protested outside an Environmental Appeal Board hearing to demand that the Ministry of the Environment reverse its decision to grant South Island Aggregates a permit to dump the soil in the watershed. At that time, chapter activist Ted Woynillowicz was interviewed by CHEK News & Island CTV.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. As a result, there are now three obligations that governments must follow: the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill.” The obligation to protect means, for example, that local communities should be protected from their drinking water being polluted by the dumping of toxic soil in their watershed.

Further reading
Victoria chapter seeks to protect Shawnigan Lake & Thetis Lake from toxic dumps (March 2014)