Contaminated soil from Kitkatla coming to the islands

  • Feb. 2, 2007 4:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Hundreds of tonnes of contaminated soil will soon be on its way to the islands’ landfill near Port Clements. Tim DesChamp, superintendent of waste management at the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District says nothing is confirmed, but admits that there is about 1,500 dump truckloads of contaminated material from a spill in Kitkatla looking for a place to go. However, Ian Turner of Quantum Remediation, the company contracted to deal with the soil, says that the soil from Kitkatla will be barged to the islands in the next month. He says the soil will be used for land cover for the garbage once it has been remediated to “commercial level.” He described the contamination as hydro-carbons and when asked to clarify, he said “gas and maybe a bit of sulphur.” The soil is to be piled on to huge rubber mats and mixed with microorganisms to induce bacterial action that breaks down the hydro-carbons after several years. This facility is known as a bio-cell. Mr. DesChamp says having contaminated soil at the landfill on the islands is nothing new. He says the last bio-cell was put in in 2000, and soil from the Marie Lake fuel spill a year and a half ago was also brought there. Mr. Turner says his company has a permit with the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District “We pay to take the soil there,” he told the Observer. The regional district will receive $20 a cubic metre for the 14,000 cubic metres of soil and Quantum will be responsible for the costs of the bio-cell. Wally Cheer, Port Clements councillor who is also on the Islands Solid Waste Management Committee, says the committee was never consulted. His first reaction was “this is not something we want on the islands.” He says the landfill site is filling up more rapidly than anticipated and every effort is being made to slow down the input at the site. He said due to the upheaval at the regional district, the January meeting was cancelled and he was told by Mr. DesChamp (after his first discussion with The Observer) that’s why the committee was not told about the possibility. Mr. Cheer has not decided if this is a good or bad deal for the islands yet. He was told Kitkatla doesn’t have a suitable site to build its own bio-cell that’s away from the water. He was also told the Port landfill will need soil to cover the garbage when the site is closed. In some ways, it makes sense, he says. “But it would have been nice to talk about this before it was done deal.”