The minister of environment has suspended a waste discharge permit for the company operating a controversial contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake.
In an Order posted today, Minister of Environment Mary Polak says she suspended Cobble Hill Holdings’ permit because of a “failure to address both outstanding as well as past non-compliances,” adding if the issues aren’t resolved in 15 days she will cancel the permit altogether.
In an attached letter, Polak notes compliance issues have stretched back as far as October, when she wrote an earlier letter to the company outlining several problems which remain unsolved.
Those include a failure to meet water quality targets in more than one case, missed deadlines on water management reports in the summer and fall, and a failure by the company to provide an updated closure plan with cost estimate and financial security.
A statement from the ministry says the company has also been told to monitor water quality while the permit is suspended to ensure no pollution occurs during that time.
Failure to comply could also net the company a $300,000 fine.
The Shawnigan Lake Residents Association has been fighting a multi-year legal battle against the soil dump, arguing it is causing air and water pollution at the lake, which 12,000 people rely on for drinking water.
South Island Aggregates – Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd initially won the permit to dump material near Shawnigan lake in 2013, over vocal opposition from the local community.
In March 2015, after a nearly two-year battle, the province upheld the permit, allowing South Island Aggregates to truck in 5,000,000 tons of contaminated soil from greater Victoria for processing at a quarry outside the village.
The B.C. Supreme Court overturned that ruling last year, only to be again overruled by the B.C. Court of Appeal in November.
Residents are now seeking to have their case heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last January, Polak said provincial enforcement staff had been regularly visiting the site and there had been no incidents of concern for the environment or human health.