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Soil dumping halted pending appeals

logoCowichanCitizenCowichan Valley Citizen, November 20, 2013

A significant battle has been won in the war against trucking contaminated soil from Greater Victoria into the Shawnigan watershed.

The Environmental Appeal Board has granted a request by the CVRD and Shawnigan Residents Association to stay a permit issued to Cobble Hill Holdings (South Island Aggregates) to truck 100,000 tonnes of dirty dirt north over the Malahat.

The determination was made public on Friday.

"We received a copy of the ruling on Friday morning," CVRD board chair Rob Hutchins confirmed.

While calling it a good news story, Hutchins said it's still just a temporary fix.

"This is an interim measure. To my knowledge as of [Tuesday morning] we have not received notification of when the actual appeal will be heard," he said.

Nevertheless, Hutchins said it's a positive step.

"They're applying the precautionary principle because of the potential risk to the environment and so that until they've actually conducted the full hearing, [SIA] cannot proceed at this time," he said.

The appeal board panel ruled that the inconvenience caused to SIA'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.

"Given that the contaminated soil that is permitted to be received and landfilled at the facility may include persistent and highly toxic chemicals such as dioxins and furans, there may be harm that could not be remedied if the eventual decision on the merits of the appeals does not accord with the result of the stay application," the panel said.

The stay will remain in place pending the board's decision on the merits of the appeals.

"We applaud the EAB for supporting the application for stay and look forward to the matter of the appeal being heard before the board," said Shawnigan Residents Association Director Calvin Cook. "We maintain that the 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."

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