B.C.'s environment minister suspends permit for soil dumping near Shawnigan Lake

FILE PHOTO - British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak pauses while responding to the Northern Gateway decision in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 17, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA - B.C.'s environment ministry is threatening to revoke a permit for the company operating a controversial dumping site for contaminated soil on Vancouver Island.

A news release from the ministry says it has immediately suspended the waste discharge permit held by Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. for their operations at an old quarry near Shawnigan Lake.

Environment Minister Mary Polak says she is issuing the suspension because the company has failed to address outstanding and past non-compliances.

She says if the company does not provide documents required by the ministry within the next 15 business days, their permit will be cancelled.

The company was previously involved in a legal dispute with the Cowichan Valley Regional District when officials tried to prohibit soil dumping through local bylaws.

The B.C. Court of Appeal ultimately sided with Cobble Hill Holdings last fall, allowing dumping to resume.

Numerous protests against the facility have been underway since 2013 when the ministry approved the permit for dumping up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil within the Shawnigan Lake watershed annually.

In Friday's statement from Polak, she says she has warned the company pollution should not occur regardless of the status of their permit, and she is issuing a spill prevention order to reduce the risk of leachate escaping from the facility into the environment.

A spokesperson for Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. could not be immediately reached.

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