Shawnigan quarry weathers storms


A quarry that stores contaminated soil uphill from Shawnigan Lake weathered a series of weekend storms without spilling any more polluted water, Environment Minister Mary Polak said Monday.

“Staff are telling me that over the weekend there were no issues with water management and everything stayed on site as it should have,” she said in an interview.

Polak said the site’s owner, Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd., continues to comply with a pollution prevention order issued last week following a spill of untreated water during heavy rains Oct. 8. Island Health has said it does not believe the spill put public health at risk.

Polak said ministry staff continue to monitor the Stebbings Road facility. “Their job is to ensure that there is nothing that is going to negatively impact the drinking-water quality for people, the use of the lake and surrounding areas,” she said.

Shawnigan residents remain on high alert.

“From our perspective, we feel extremely fortunate that we dodged a bullet and we didn’t get a repeat of what happened the previous weekend,” Calvin Cook, president of the Shawnigan Residents’ Association, said Monday. “But that certainly doesn’t alter the fact that the site flat out isn’t suitable.”

Steve Housser, B.C. Liberal candidate in the Cowichan Valley riding, has called for the site to close.

Polak said it would be inappropriate for her to interfere politically with the work of ministry staff. “It’s not for the minister to take action independently just because something is not positive politically,” she said. “It has to be based on the science and therefore it’s based on what the environmental protection department recommends.”

© Copyright Times Colonist

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