‘Dirty dirt’ treatment plant proposed

More studies and time required, says Campbell River Environmental Council regarding Upland's plan

The Campbell River Environmental Council wants to see more studies before approval is given for a proposed contaminated soil treatment facility near McIvor Lake.

Upland Excavating wants to build an 18,100 square foot facility that would be housed under a dome in order to remediate “dirty dirt,” up to 50,000 cubic metres. The company says there’s a there’s a need for such a facility due to limited locations on Vancouver Island to remediate hydrocarbon contaminated soil.

But first Upland requires approval from the Ministry of Environment and has filed a 64-page technical report prepared by consultants Terrawest Environmental Inc. The report was issued June 6 and provides the public with 30 days to make comments to the ministry.

That’s not enough time, according to the local environmental council, which wants to first see detailed hydrology and geotechnical studies.

“My question is, where does the groundwater go?” council president Leona Adams told the Mirror. “People who are wells and the people of Campbell River need to know about this – this is their drinking water.”

In a letter from the council to the City of Campbell River, Adams further outlined their concerns for the facility proposed for 7311 Gold River Hwy.:

“These lands and the entire contaminated soil remediation activities are situated on top of a large aquifer which is on the south, east and north shore of McIvor Lake. McIvor lake is part of Lower Campbell Lake and connects to John Hart Lake, which is the source of Campbell River’s drinking water…(we are) concerned over the potentially severe impact of the proposed contaminated storage and treatment facility on the quality of our drinking water.”

According to the Terrawest technical report, “The design, construction and operation of the facility meet or exceed the requirements detailed with the Ministry of Environment protocol.”

The report outlines how Upland intends to capture any runoff waters at the lowest point using one sump pump. But Adams wonders if that will be good enough, pointing out that the Quinsam Coal mine uses two sump pumps at its site and that’s sometimes not quite enough to collect all the runoff.

“And where will the effluent be treated?” she asked. Adams is hopeful the period for public response can be extended at least until further studies are available. As it stands, the deadline is July 5.

“The deadline should be extended,” said city councillor Larry Samson. “I don’t even know if the residents living around McIvor Lake have been consulted or are even aware about this.”

Samson said the issue was raised at a recent committee of the whole meeting and he’s further spoken to Environment Ministry representatives about the concerns raised by the local environmental council. He also wanted to clarify whether Upland has the proper zoning to be build a contaminated soil treatment facility.

“City staff indicate they do have the proper zoning – but it’s not clear,” he said. “There are questions to be asked about the amount of soil to be treated, where is it coming from, and the proximity to our watershed and the Quinsam River?”

Upland manager Mike Stuart was not available for comment at press time.