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Another Chapter in the Contaminated Soil Issue

It’s a slap in the face for residents of Shawnigan Lake and our local Cowichan Valley MLA.

South Island Aggregates, the company at the heart of the contaminated soil issue in the small community, missed it’s September 30 deadline to comply with an order to remove soil from lot 21.

On May 14, the Ministry of Energy and Mines issued an order to the company about lot 21, the site of approximately one hundred thousand tonnes of industrial soil and lot 23, the site of around one hundred thousand tonnes of contaminated soil.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, Michelle Mungall said South Island Aggregates hasn’t taken the order seriously.

“The site has recently been inspected and what we found was that the site was still out of compliance, they had not taken our order seriously,” said Mungall.

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“That is unacceptable, this issue is now before a statutory decision-maker so that we can proceed in terms of how we can bring them into compliance and the penalty that they will have to pay for being out of compliance longer than they should have been,” said Mungall.

Cowichan Valley Green MLA Sonia Furstenau referenced May 2016 when the Auditor General released an audit of compliance and enforcement in the mining sector.

She said South Island Aggregates has a long history of non-compliance and asked this question to the ministry.

“If the ministry doesn’t seem to have the capacity to enforce the rules of its orders and to bring about compliance, who is looking out for the public interest,” said Furstenau.

According to Furstenau, South Island Aggregates isn’t paying its property taxes, compounding the issue and she called on the provincial government to do what it is mandated to, look out for the public interest.

“By not enforcing the rules and continuing to grant extensions, it would appear that the message this government sends is that rules don’t matter, conditions mean nothing, and deadlines are irrelevant,” said Furstenau.

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Shawnigan residents have been in this fight to get the soil removed for seven years.

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