Environment minister approves closure plan for controversial landfill near Shawnigan Lake

Environment minister approves closure plan for controversial landfill near Shawnigan Lake
Ministry of Environment approves closure plan for controversial landfill near Shawnigan Lake

More than two years after the province revoked the permit for a contaminated soil landfill near Shawnigan Lake, final closure plans for the site have been approved.

The Ministry of Environment approved the 2019 Update Final Closure Plan with a number of conditions.

“There is no technical rationale for me to conclude that the closure plan, properly implemented, would not be capable of providing an acceptable level of environmental protection,” writes Minister of Environment and Climate Change George Heyman.

The landfill, located in an old quarry in the hills above the community, received a permit in 2013 to accept and store up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil at the site every year.

The province pulled the permit in late February 2017 after it said owner Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. failed to provide documents proving the company had financial security in the form of an irrevocable letter of credit.

The ministry says there are currently approximately 100,000 tonnes of soil in the landfill that “has not yet been permanently closed with appropriate final cover layers to provide long-term protection from the elements.”

It says there also about 3,360 tonnes of contaminated soul in a soil management area that has not yet been moved to the landfill.

Under the closure plan, the contaminated soil will not be removed from the site.

Heyman says the province will closely monitor work at the site.

“I intend to provide close ministry oversight to ensure compliance with all conditions and commitments in the approval letter and plan,” he writes.

I also reserve the right to take any further actions as necessary to ensure protection of the environment in the vicinity of the site.”

Residents remain concerned that contaminants from the landfill will eventually end up in Shawnigan Lake, the drinking water source for the community.

The Shawingan Research Group says it is reviewing the details of the of plan and will be available for questions along with MLA Sonia Fursteneau on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Shawnigan Lake Community Center.

With files from CBC


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