Mill site clean-up would be owner’s responsibility

Former Elk Falls mill site in Campbell River would have to be looked at for environmental contamination

Edmonton developer Harold Jahn says his company, Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals, will accept “all environmental liability” for the 400-acre Elk Falls Mill site.

Jahn’s $8.6 million purchase of the defunct Catalyst Paper Mill closes Sept.5.

The developer’s assurance comes after the Mirror obtained a memo written by BC environment ministry senior contaminated sites officer Vincent Hanemayer which states that:

“The Elk Falls Mill has been identified as a contaminated site by the ministry and prior to redevelopment contamination would have to be assessed and addressed.”

Jahn replied, “The current state of the site will be our liability. When we have gone through the sale closing process we will meet with the government’s environmental officials and with the (Catalyst’s) environmental consultant.”

He said the “rejuvenation” process at the mill site will include water and sewer technologies that should help reduce the operating costs on the property.

Hanemayer told the Mirror, “We have received some investigation reports from Catalyst for the Elk Falls Mill. However, they have not been reviewed so we are not aware of the nature of contamination at the site.”

In his memo Hanemayer stated:

“Upon decommissioning of the mill, Catalyst Paper submitted a site profile to the ministry. Based on the information in the site profile we required a site investigation for the site.

“This has the effect of freezing the ability of the local government (the City of Campbell River) from issuing demolition, subdivision rezoning, soil removal, development or development variance permits until the site has received an Approval in Principle for a remediation plan or a Certificate of Compliance of remediation completion.

“Any new owner would have to adequately address site contamination prior to obtaining the local government permits,” Hanemayer wrote.

City Manager Andy Laidlaw had no information about contaminates but confirmed the new owner will have to get provincial sign off before any development permits can be issued.