The Capital Regional District decision to allow spreading of biosolids at Hartland Landfill during the five or six weeks per year that the incineration facility on the Lower Mainland is closed for maintenance was made with absolutely no consultation with nearby communities such as Prospect Lake, Highlands and Willis Point, who will be affected by this decision.
This lack of consultation contradicts the established CRD policy regarding community consultation, is a reversal of a policy in effect since 2011 to not spread biosolids and is inexcusable given that the CRD has had several years to plan how residuals would be disposed.
There is a well-documented risk to the spreading of biosolids, which is why in 2011 the CRD made the decision not to allow it to be spread on land. Nothing has changed since then and the risks remain the same. The heavy metals and organic contaminants still present in the treated sewage residue pose long-term health risks through airborne pollution and the spreading of these materials, even though at this point purportedly restricted just to the landfill site, would put adjacent communities at risk.
No consultation has been conducted with any of these stakeholders on this decision. All of Saanich’s representatives on the CRD voted for this so-called “interim” measure to the detriment of area residents.
The latest move marks yet another broken promise by the CRD. Initially, the selection of Hartland as the site for the solid residuals treatment plan was simply described as a back-up option. In the political gridlock surrounding the sewage management process, the decision to build an 18-kilometre pipeline to Hartland for the solid residuals treatment was grasped by the CRD as the “easy solution.” Yet it has led to increased costs for the project, has put every community along the residuals pipeline route at risk, and now appears to be leading to further health and safety hazards with the plan to spread the biosolids in an ecologically significant area.
The CRD should be seeking an extension from the B.C. Ministry of the Environment and examine better alternatives that do not involve spreading biosolids at Hartland. It should conduct a detailed human health and ecological risk assessment to be able to engage in meaningful consultation with adjacent communities, and must revisit the decision to spread biosolids in this area. It’s time the CRD lived up to its promises. The first step would be to reaffirm its decision not to spread biosolids at Hartland or anywhere else in the region.