A local environmental group is sounding alarm bells over the disposal of the Salmon River Diversion project’s creosote logs at Upland Contracting’s site across Highway 28 from McIvor Lake.
“There must be zero per cent risk when you are putting waste beside our drinking water,” said Leona Adams, president of the Campbell River Environmental Committee. “There is no other drinking water for the 35,000 people that live here.”
Adams is worried that run off from the site will go into the ground water, aquifer and into Cold Creek and the Quinsam River system.
She contacted the Ministry of Environment to report Upland’s activities, believing that they were in violation of the permit that allows them to dispose of inert waste on their site.
The creosote logs are currently sitting on the southeast corner of Uplands lot in a double lined landfill area, covered by gravel and packed soil. Terry Stuart, spokesperson for Upland, says that rainwater does not and will not come in contact with the timbers and there is no chance of leaching.
The ministry sent a compliance and enforcement officer to the site in mid-September to investigate the allegations.
The officer asked Upland to do a Modified Leachate Extraction Test. They drilled holes throughout the timbers to collect samples of the materials, and mix it with water and other substances, which allowed them to measure contaminates that move away from the materials. Stuart said their findings were well below the ministry’s standards.
The compliance officer’s preliminary report says, “Creosote logs have been brought on site and are being stored on the landfill site while characterization of the waste is taking place using the Hazardous Waste Material Regulation modified protocol for leach-ability. Results and recommendations from the qualified professional will be discussed between ENV and Uplands prior to determining suitability for deposit of the creosote logs to the existing landfill.”
The waste classification has not yet been released, but the site was found to be in compliance with the permit conditions, according to Matthew Beckett, senior environmental protection officer for the Ministry of Environment, in a letter dated Sept. 20 to Campbell River resident Andrea Anderson.
“The officers noted that the material in question is located in an excavation with minimal potential for runoff,” Beckett added in the letter, which was shared with Campbell River City Council on Oct. 10.
However, Adams is still worried.
“We feel that there has been errors made that favour Uplands,” she said.
She claims a hydro-geologist working with the environmental committee came to conclusions that were the exact opposite of what Uplands claims and those differences in opinion worry her.
“I think it is pretty important and we would like to see the Ministry of Environment follow more of a precautionary principal when it comes to people’s drinking water and fish habitat,” she said.
Upland is operating on a permit that was issued June 1, 1992 by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. The permit states “the type of refuge which may be discharged is inert municipal.” It goes on to say “The components of the refuse which may be discharged are stumps, trees, land clearing waste, selected building demolition debris, and residue of combustion from the open burning of wood waste.” It further clarifies saying that no waste that can decay can be discharged at the site.
Upland is in the process of applying to upgrade from their landfill permit to a landfill operational certificate.