Have heard rumours that this area was shut down by Work Safe and there are claims made by the workers. Not sure how accurate the rumours are, but it seems weird that the 2 large mounds of soil have been covered with plastic.
The ‘soil’ is black like the coal hills which shouldn’t surprise anyone since according to old maps and the Friendly Port, there was coal action on that side of the creek. Wonder how much of it is contaminated?
Took the pic below Mar. 12, 2019 after the wind tore apart the ‘condom’.
Took this one today and it looks like they have put up some type of barrier to prevent any of that ‘soil’ from entering the ditch which leads to Washer (Hart) Creek. Notice the “muster point” sign?
A draft plan for the remediation of the contaminated Union Bay coal hills should be submitted to the province this June, and the information could be public by the fall, according to a representative from West Fraser Mills.
Although most of the information contained in the agreement between West Fraser and the provincial government over the coal hills’ clean-up is still confidential, representatives from the two bodies presented an update on the issue at the Comox Valley Regional District’s April 24 board meeting.
Duncan Williams, the executive director of crown land opportunities for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, (FLNRORD) said his department will review West Fraser’s draft plan when it is submitted later this spring. If happy with it, he said they will send the plan to the Ministry of Environment — the regulator — for further scrutiny.
“It’s not until [Ministry of Environment] signs off on it and improves on it that we’ll know what the final design is,” he said.
West Fraser leases a portion of the Union Bay coal hills from the Crown. Pending the regulator’s approval, the forestry company plans to supply an engineered membrane that will cover the entire contaminated site. The membrane will include a layer of soil on top of it, about a metre or two deep.
The engineered cover is hoped to impede water access to the coal pile, reducing acid rock drainage and the release of metals to the environment.
Now that the provincial government owns the land, it will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the coal hills following its remediation.
“Over time, our experience with remediated sites is that they self-remediate,” said Williams. “That’s part of the monitoring [we’ll do] to make sure it’s in effect. We’re going to monitor the foreshore as well to make sure it’s working. If it’s not working, we’ll [install] a water treatment plant.”
“Our long-term goal is to keep it vacant crown land,” added Williams. “Make sure there are no trees on it, and minimal use from the public on it. We don’t want motorbikes riding over the top of it.”
According to West Fraser environmental affairs manager Cindy MacDonald, the forestry company is currently in the design phase. She said capping the contaminated area is the standard practice for remediating contaminated sites such as the one in Union Bay.
“You couldn’t move that pile because you’d open it up and potentially have a significant environmental problem once you open it up to the water and the air,” she said.
MacDonald and Williams said the likely plan is to apply a membrane similar to the one used at Yanks Peak in the Kootenays — an engineered cap with a lifespan between 50 and 100 years.
MacDonald said the forestry company is paying for the design and installation of the cover and said remediation could take two or three years to be completed.
“Depending on when we get approval to go ahead with the remediation plan, it will probably be the following year,” she said.
After the membrane is installed, West Fraser will surrender its portion of the coal hills to the province.
Remediation years in the making:
The B.C. government has recognized the Union Bay coal hills as a “priority contaminated site” since 2012. Negotiations over the need for its remediation have gone on for over a decade.
Much of the coal hills was previously owned by development company Kensington Union Bay Properties. The developer sold the land to the province last year for $1, to the surprise of some Union Bay landowners.
The Union Bay coal hills were originally used by Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd. as a washing and load-out facility for coal coming from the Cumberland mines. The hills’ contamination is due to residue from the industrial operations undertaken there.
Attended the CVRD meeting Apr. 24, 2018, with an update by Duncan Williams, Executive Director, Crown Land Opportunities and Restoration Branch.
Thanks to Mr. Williams and the West Fraser rep for answering questions after the presentation.
For some reason, the UBID Admin was at the meeting which commenced just before 4 pm. As usual, no pen, no paper. Was he there on behalf of UBID? Guess he’ll have to use my video to prepare his report.
(Lightened the video as it was too dark.)
I don’t see how this is progress. It’s the same three parties involved. If West Fraser is paying for the remediation, why is there an agreement not to speak about it publicly?
If this is the same ‘prescription’ arrived at years ago and the only thing that was holding up the remediation was who was going to pay what portion – then why is this plan being offered under the condition that a Regulator must approve it? Shouldn’t this have already been approved since it has gone on for years?
Apparently, toxic sites like the coal hills remediate themselves over the years (surprise) and cadmium is not a problem. This Seacor report seems to indicate cadmium at a number of spots.
This is the email I refer to in the video where it is stated in June 2015, that The Ministry has approved the remediation plan for the site (Oct. 2012). So what happened since Oct. 2012? Why does it feel like we’re starting all over again?
Here’s a letter to Cindy McDonald (answers questions in video of Apr. 24) in 2014. So what has happened since Sept. 2014 when the final remedial plan design and revised schedule for implementation was to be submitted to the Ministry?
I note KIP was again the one keeping departments waiting for a report. Remember, timelines don’t matter when you’re dealing with government, according to KIP VP, McMahon.
Anyone remember this bullshit from KIP’s last website? https://allthingsunionbay.com/2016/04/05/anyone-else-notice-the-letter-from-jim-youngren-partner-of-34083-yukon-inc/
I’m surprised at all the talk about KIP developing the waterfront and creek front in the first phase and no mention of the toxic site literally feet from the swanky development. Anyone walking the coal hills knows the contaminated soil does not suddenly stop at the shoreline – it’s been spread out over an extremely large area surrounding the contaminated site by the tides and storms – a dead zone.
Took the following pic in 2013. Is there any difference in the soil on the coal hills and the soil across the creek on the shoreline?
This is from the last time KIP tried to get approval for a marina.
Aquaculture is dependent on water that is free from contamination. Oysters cannot move from where they are placed, so the tailings of the Tsable River mine and leaching from all the years of industry in the Union Bay Harbour which are soon to be released through the dredging, will not only bring contaminates but also destroy the plankton on which the oysters feed. Oysters must be handled delicately. Their bed must be undisturbed, their water warmer and less saline than the open sea, and their food, the minute plankton, cannot be disturbed by heavy machinery or any indiscriminate use of the shoreline.