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Rescind the SIA (South Island Aggregates) permit to dump contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake Watershed

This petition had 1,840 supporters

Shawnigan Lake is a thriving community with a promising future. Our future does NOT include a contaminated dump in our drinking watershed.

Three years ago, the people of Shawnigan Lake were informed of a proposed plan to turn a quarry, located on Stebbings road, at the top end of the Shawnigan watershed, into a contaminated soil site.

The proposal would allow South Island Aggregates (SIA), a gravel company, to bring in 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil each year for 50 years and dump it on their site, while still operating as an active quarry. 

The contaminants listed in the permit include dioxins, furans, phenols, hydrocarbons, arsenic, lead, chlorides, and a myriad of other toxins and chemicals known to be harmful to human health.

The people of Shawnigan have been united and vocal in their resistance to this plan, but their opposition has been consistently and steadfastly ignored.

Over the course of the Environmental Appeal Board hearings, which lasted 32 days, a significant volume of evidence was presented from experts, including geologists, hydro-geologists, engineers, and a water treatment specialist.  The experts agreed that the information presented by SIA’s engineers, Active Earth, was inaccurate, insufficient, and at times misleading.  One expert, on the record, commenting on the proposed site stated, “this is crazy.”

Active Earth, the engineers whose survey and design of the site formed the basis upon which the Ministry of Environment issued the permit, did not testify during the hearings.  Indeed, there were no experts testifying on behalf of SIA to defend the site or the plans.

It was also revealed that SIA owed Active Earth $540,000 (at the time of the hearings) – the engineers had not been paid for the work they had done.  This of course raised questions about the Active Earth reports, given they had considerable financial ties to SIA and an interest in the outcome of the permit process. Most importantly, the experts who testified were unanimous in their concerns about the location of this proposed contaminated soil site. 

It became clear that this is indeed an inappropriate site for this type of dump, and that the contaminants present a clear risk, not just to the environment but to the long-term safety of the drinking water.  It also became clear that in the process of granting this permit, the protocols for selecting a site for contaminated soil were ignored.

The Environmental Appeal Board – despite the lack of testimony from Active Earth and the numerous errors and flaws in Active Earth’s Techincal Assessment Report – chose to uphold this permit.

The people of Shawnigan Lake do not accept this decision, do not accept this risk to our community, and we will continue to fight until the permit is revoked.

The Provincial Cabinet has the jurisdiction to overturn this permit, and protect the drinking water of 12.000 people. They must do the right thing.

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