By Peter Rusland - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Published: November 15, 2013 4:00 PM
Shawnigan Lake residents won a battle, but not the war, with Friday's ruling banning dirty-dirt dumping into a company's treatment pit.
The Environmental Appeal Board's stay sticks until it hears a local appeal about South lsland Aggregates' B.C. permit to treat five million tonnes of fuel-laced soil at its Stebbings Road pit.
EAB chairman Alan Andison and the EAB granted the soil-dumping stay.
It was submitted by the Shawnigan Residents Association, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, against SIA's permit granted, in September.
"This decision reaffirms the significant risk to our drinking water and environment from the (SIA) permit issued by the ministry of environment," SRA's release says.
It and the CVRD successfully sought to stop soil being hauled by SIA to its massive treatment-quarry facility
Andison states the EAB panel found "the balance of convenience weighs in favor of granting a stay of the portions of the permit that authorize the permit holder (SIA) to receive and landfill contaminated soil, pending a decision on the merits of the appeal."
The EAB also had environmental concerns about SIA bringing that fuel-fouled soil to its pit during the appeal.
"Given the serious risks to the environment, and water resources, if a stay is denied and an escape of contaminates occurs," the EAB states, "the panel finds that any inconvenience or harm to the permit holder's financial interests, if a stay is granted, does not outweigh the risk of harm to water resources and human health if a stay of the permit is denied."
Any soil delivered to SIA's facility before the stay decision is subject to the permit's full requirements concerning environmental safeguards, the EAB notes.
But SRA members, fundraising to pay lawyers, aren't finished.
"We maintain serious flaws in the permit, and risks associated with the contaminated landfill in our drinking watershed — identified by experts in the field of environmental science — must not be overlooked," a statement by SRA director Calvin Cook says.
"The risk to the public in this matter far exceeds any acceptable level. We applaud the EAB for supporting the application for stay and look forward to the matter of the appeal being heard before the board."
The CVRD also seeks a court ruling on if Victoria could have issued SIA's permit without recognizing local zoning bylaws banning soil treatment.