‘We are not polluting’: Deep Bay Recovery responds to accusations

'We are not polluting': Deep Bay Recovery responds to accusations

The owner of Deep Water Recovery, a ship-breaking business in Union Bay in Central Vancouver Island, is speaking out after his appeal of a Pollution Abatement Order by the province in March was denied.

The order laid out numerous conditions he must follow to address pollution the province says is “ongoing as a result of effluent being discharged into the waters of Union Bay.” But the owner of Deep Water Recovery Mark Jurisich says he’s not polluting anything.

“If you said to me that the results change every time we work then I’m with you, we’re doing something wrong, but they never change whether we work or do nothing,” Jurisich said.

He’s referring to water sampling numbers available in the appeal decision that show high levels of copper, zinc and lead in water around the property with levels as high as 30 times above guidance levels set by the province.

But Jurisich says it’s been an industrial site for 120 years, with coal all around and copper that was even mined on Mount Washington, so that must be where the high numbers are coming from.

“We are not polluting,” he said. “Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, Transport Canada all come through our facility and don’t have a problem with any of it,” he added. “The coal train tracks used to run right through this property.”

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Prior to Jurisich’s business, the property was home to a long time log sort.

The full written decision and water sampling numbers can be found here.

But local neighbours and a vocal group of opponents and environmentalists do have a problem with it and have been telling anyone who will listen that this type of business should not be allowed on the shores of Baynes Sound, and some of the best shellfish growing waters anywhere.

“We’ve been after the province for four years now explaining the toxicity of shipbreaking and the problem is that this operation denies any wrongdoing, any responsibility for any pollution, and the province just has to stop playing footsie with him and get on with it,” said Rob Kerr who lives nearby.

“It was designated as an ecologically and biologically sensitive ecosystem by the DFO, so those are all the parameters that we believe that it has no place in Baynes Sound. It belongs in a deep water port, full containment with a dry dock, case closed,” added Marilynne Manning of Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound.

“We’re not ship breakers, we’re not wreckers. We dismantle piece by piece,” said Jurisich. “Vessel dismantling and vessel construction. They’re one in the same.”

Jurisich says he’s diverted rainwater coming down the property away from the work site, but sampling hasn’t been done yet, and says he also has plans to build a $5.2 million marine workspace with a 600 foot concrete pad and 450 foot shelter, but he doesn’t have the permit to do it.

The Ministry of Environment told CHEK News Thursday, “The health of our coastline, and the species that depend on a healthy environment, are extremely important to us. We continue to look into concerns at the Deep Water Recovery site in Union Bay to ensure the business is compliant and the environment is protected. The company was ordered to sample, monitor and report back to us monthly to ensure there is no pollution at the site. After reviewing samples, we ordered the company to immediately stop discharging effluent above water quality guidelines and provide an action plan on how they intend to do that. The recent decision by the Environmental Appeal Board means the requirements of the Pollution Abatement Order remain in effect while the appeal of the order moves through the process.”

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