(UPDATE) Contaminated soil to be left at Shawnigan Lake landfill
The BC Greens say the BC Government has decided to abandons contaminated soil in the Shawnigan watershed.
In a release Sonia Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley says the Province approved a final closure plan, but says that fails to remove about 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil that's been abandoned at the site, located directly above the water source for 12,000 residents of Shawnigan Lake.
The permit was first suspended in January 2017 after incidents of non-compliance in 2016. Heavy rains led to untreated water leaching into the surrounding environment.
The controversial landfill was finally forbidden from accepting more soil when its operating permit was pulled by the province just over 2 years ago, following years of lawsuits and protests.
Now, Furstenau says, instead of removing the soil, the province is turning the site back over to the very same owners who were responsible for all the issues in the first place to carry out the final closure plan.
Furstenau calls the decision unacceptable, adding that failing to protect drinking water "is a failure of this government."
The MLA says the decision shows the Environment ministry needs greater powers within the Environmental Management Act to consider the history of operators when making these types of decisions.
Meantime, Environment Minister George Heyman issued a statement assuring his government takes protection of drinking water, human health and the environment very seriously.
Heyman says all aspects of the final closure plan have been informed and reviewed by professional staff, as well as a number of independent qualified professionals, and took into account scientific data, as well as community concerns.
Based on those concerns Heyman placed additional conditions on the closure plan to increase the protection and monitoring of the environment and watershed, as well as established additional independent oversight of work activity on the site.
The minister says he has reserved the right to order any other actions necessary to protect the watershed should the ongoing and new shallow monitoring reveal hazards.