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Contaminated soil could pose health risk: VIHA health authority

Residents have until April 9 to comment about a provincial draft permit granted for SIA
Residents have until April 9 to comment about a provincial draft permit granted for SIA's proposed dirty-soil treatment site in the Shawnigan Lake watershed.
— image credit: Tyson Jones

Rising tensions and possible health concerns involving a proposed contaminated-soil dump site on Stebbings Road have grabbed the attention of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, says Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Hasselback.

Hasselback sent a letter to B.C.'s Director of Environmental Protection, Hubert Bunce, addressing his concerns, as well as the worries of Shawnigan Lake residents, regarding a provincial draft permit given South Island Aggregates for planned dirty-soil treatment in a Shawnigan area quarry.

Residents fear runoff from the quarry's soil cells will foul the lake and its drinking water-source aquifer.

"Divisive local issues, that have propagated concerns that have not been satisfactorily addressed, can adversely affect the health of the public," Hasselback tells Bunce.

With the draft permit's public-feedback period closing April 9, Hassleback's strong professional presence on the matter should give residents support for their cause — and open decision makers' ears, says Shawnigan Lake Director, Bruce Fraser.

Unfortunately, that is not the case, indicated Fraser.

"The impression we are getting, from when we heard (Environmental Minister) Terry Lake on the (CFAX) radio is, they think it's a done deal," he told the News Leader Pictorial. "That kind of message from (Lake) was very discouraging."

If SIA's permit is granted after April 9, a 30-day appeal process will begin.

At a public meeting held last Monday, Shawnigan citizens discussed their options. Along with the appeal, there was talk of a class-action lawsuit, and possible acts of civil disobedience.

Fraser hopes it will not come to that.

"What worries me most is that the government would put a community in a place where they are in danger," said Fraser.

"To put people in a position where some feel the need to go the civil-disobedience route is disrespectful, especially to defend a community water source — something that is so vital to human existence."

If you wish to view the draft permit or make a comment visit:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/regions/vanc_island/env-mgt/sia_permit.htm

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