South Island Aggregates - Cobble Hill Holdings

Summary

In August 2013, the Ministry of Environment issued a permit under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) for Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. (CHH) to establish a soil remediation facility and landfill in the Shawnigan Lake Watershed. The permit allowed the company to treat contaminated soil, landfill soil that cannot be treated, and discharge treated effluent to an ephemeral stream. An information sheet about the permit (PDF) contains further details. The permit is specific to contaminated soil management activities. Other quarrying activities that are occurring on Lot 23 are regulated by the Ministry of Energy and Mines under the Mines Act.

The permit was appealed after it was issued, but in March 2015 the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) upheld the permit decision (See EAB Decision (PDF). The permit was amended by the Statutory Decision Maker (SDM) on June 4, 2015 to incorporate requirements as directed by the EAB. In response to new information obtained in the first year of operation, additional requirements were set by the SDM in June 2016. A copy of the permit and associated amendments, along with some of the technical reports which supported issuance of the permit, are posted below under “Permit Information”.

Ministry staff have been monitoring the site for compliance with permit requirements on an ongoing basis and copies of compliance records and correspondence are posted below under “Permit Compliance”.

In response to concerns expressed by members of the community about water flowing off the site in the fall of 2015, the ministry commissioned an independent watershed monitoring study for the South Shawnigan Creek area. The study is ongoing and details are posted below under "South Shawnigan Creek Monitoring Study".

On October 11, 2016 the Minister of Environment issued a letter to the permittee (CHH) indicating that the permit may be suspended or cancelled if key outstanding non-compliances were not addressed. Information was exchanged between the ministry and the permittee, but on January 27, 2017 the permit was suspended and a Spill Prevention Order (SPO) was issued. On February 23 the permit was cancelled, and on March 15 the SPO was amended to specify additional actions to be taken to ensure ongoing protection of the environment and human health. Copies of the Minister’s letters and the SPO are posted below under “Permit Information”.


Spill Prevention Order Information M01701

The Spill Prevention Order (SPO) requires Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. and other Parties to prevent the discharge of leachate and waste to the environment. The original Order was issued at the time the permit was suspended, and it included requirements to keep the soil covered, to collect all leachate and to only dispose of it at an authorized off-site facility, and to report to the Ministry on an ongoing basis about the leachate being collected and managed.  On March 15, 2017 after the permit was cancelled, the SPO was amended to require the Named Parties to either permanently close the landfill or remove the soil.  It was was further amended on June 29, 2017 to acknowledge that the Named Parties have elected to permanently close the landfill, and more requirements related to the Final Closure Plan and implementation schedule were added.

 

Permit Information

Permit 105809 was issued to Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. (CHH) on August 21, 2013.

During the permitting process the ministry received approximately 300 submissions from the local government, First Nations, health officials and members of the general community in response to a draft permit issued in March 2013. Technical staff in the ministry reviewed and responded to these submissions, and based on input received, the draft permit was adjusted to include a number of additional measures addressing health and environmental concerns. The final decision was based on the technical merits of the proposal. The statutory decision-maker looked at the proposed project, including associated environmental concerns, and concluded that the proposal adheres to legislation and appropriately manages environmental risks and human health concerns.

The permit was suspended by the Minister of Environment on January 27, 2017, and was cancelled on February 23, 2017.

Permit Compliance

In order to exercise the rights granted by permits issued under EMA, the ministry expects full compliance with all requirements at all times; non-compliance with permit conditions compromises the ability of the permit as a whole to protect the environment. Ministry staff have been monitoring the site for compliance on an ongoing basis in accordance with ministry policies and procedures (PDF). Copies of compliance records and associated correspondence are posted below. The Ministry will continue to share information and liaise as necessary with agency partners including Island Health and the Cowichan Valley Regional District with respect to the permit and the site.

 

Pollution Prevention Order 108608

The Ministry of Environment determined that CHH did not manage water on the site according to their permit during an October 8, 2016 rain event. With a forecast of additional heavy rainfall, Ministry staff took action to ensure protection of human health and the environment. A Pollution Prevention Order (PDF)  was issued requiring CHH to immediately undertake measures to prevent issues with the water management system on site.

The Pollution Prevention Order was cancelled on March 17, 2017 because the requirements were duplicative with those included in the Spill Prevention Order issued by the Minister on March 15, 2017.

Site updates are posted below.

March 10, 2017

February 15, 2017

December 22, 2016

November 17, 2016

November 8, 2016

Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action. This website will be updated if there are significant new developments or changes in site status.

November 4, 2016

  • The permittee continues to take actions as required by the Pollution Prevention Order and provide supporting documentation to the ministry.
  • Photo of the site as of Nov 4, 2016 is attached here.  As of today, welding of the liner continues.
  • Ministry staff conducted an unscheduled inspection of the site on Friday October 28 to assess compliance with the Pollution Prevention Order.  The permittee was found to be in compliance with the Order.  A copy of the inspection report is posted under “Correspondence” below.
    • At the time of the inspection, a substantial portion of the Permanent Encapsulation Area (PEA) had been permanently covered with 40 mil LLDPE membrane, with work still in progress on the upper surface.  Leak testing was scheduled.
  • Copies of data from water quality analyses conducted by the permittee are attached:
  • Data tabulated and assessed by Ministry of Environment (MOE)
  • Elevated levels of TSS and a few metals in the settling pond discharge, and minor exceedances of water quality guidelines in the immediate downstream receiving environment, are not expected to pose a risk to the environment because Water Quality Guidelines (WQG) are generally conservative and there is significant dilution in Shawnigan Creek.
    • At the Weir Site, the TSS level exceeded the permit limit of 25mg/L.  All other parameters are below WQGs for the protection of aquatic life with the exception of total chromium, cobalt, copper, iron and vanadium, which are slightly above the guidelines.
    • At the SW-1 site, all parameters are below the WQGs for the protection of aquatic life with the exception of total chromium, copper, iron and silver, and dissolved aluminum.  The dissolved aluminum concentration (and some other parameter) exceed the chronic guideline.  Generally, chronic guideline comparisons should be based on five weekly samples collected in 30 days, and this is a comparison using just one value).  Also of note is the fact that proper comparison of the chromium concentration to guidelines requires speciation, which is being done in the next sample from October 26.
    • Overall, all dissolved metals, which are the bioavailable form, are well below WQGs except aluminum which slightly exceeds the chronic guideline only (see above note re: chronic guideline comparisons). 
  • All data has been shared with Vancouver Island Health Authority so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users.
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.  This website will be updated if there are significant new developments or changes in site status.

October 28, 2016

  • The permittee has continued to report to the ministry on a daily basis confirming that the actions required by the Order are being complied with, and documentation was provided in support of this.
  • Copies of data from water quality analyses conducted by the permittee are attached:
  • Elevated levels of TSS and a few metals in the settling pond discharge, and a minor exceedance in the immediate downstream receiving environment, are not expected to pose a risk to the environment because Water Quality Guidelines (WQG) are generally conservative and there is significant dilution in Shawnigan Creek.
    • At the Weir Site, TSS level exceeded the permit levels of 25mg/L.  All other parameters are below WQGs for the protection of aquatic life with the exception of total copper, iron and vanadium, which are slightly above the guideline.
    • At the SW-1 site, turbidity appears to be elevated, but all parameters are below the WQGs for the protection of aquatic life with the exception of total copper, which is slightly above the chronic guideline (however, chronic guideline comparisons should be based on five weekly samples collected in 30 days, and this is a comparison using just one value).
    • Overall, all dissolved metals, which are the bioavailable form, are well below WQGs. 
  • All data has been shared with Vancouver Island Health Authority so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users.
  • Ministry staff were on site today to verify compliance, and will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.  This website will be updated if there are significant new developments or changes in site status.

October 24, 2016

Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.  This website will be updated if there are significant new developments or changes in site status.

October 20, 2016

  • Site status as of 09:00hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and that there are no significant changes in the status at the site
  • The ministry has received and reviewed results of sampling conducted by the permittee on October 15 and 16 at the settling pond outlet and in the creek immediately downstream of the discharge point. Samples for metals and organics showed that:
    • There were slightly elevated levels of a total chromium in the settling pond discharge. However, data indicates water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life were met in the receiving environment for this parameter. Total copper levels were slightly above the chronic water quality guideline in the receiving environment, but in general, single samples should not be relied on to compare to chronic (long term) guidelines.
    • There were no exceedances in dissolved metals at the discharge point or in the receiving environment, which would generally be of greater concern given this is the biologically available form
    • All organic results appear to be below detection limits with the exception of Toluene which was elevated on October 15th. The Ministry and the permittee are both looking into the cause of this spike.  However, significantly lower results on the 14th and 16th suggest there was/is no immediate risk to the downstream environment or water users.
    • Downstream risks are further ameliorated due to ongoing dilution in the receiving environment.
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action. However, this website will only be updated if there are significant new developments or changes in site status.

October 19, 2016

  • Site status as of 09:15hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and that there are no significant changes in the status at the site
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action
  • The ministry has also now received final monitoring data for samples collected by the permitee while the settling pond was discharging between Oct 14-16th.  Staff have reviewed data from the 14th and the results are consistent with the preliminary findings that were included in the Oct 15 update below.  Data from Oct 15 & 16 will be reviewed shortly and the website will be updated once this is complete.

October 18, 2016

  • Site status as of 09:15hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and that there are no significant changes in the status at the site
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action

October 17, 2016

  • Site status as of 08:00hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and that there are no significant changes in the status at the site
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.

October 16, 2016

  • Site status as of 09:00hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and that there are no significant changes in the status at the site
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.

October 15th, 2016

  • Site status as of 10:00hrs (JPG)
  • The permittee reports that as of 14:00hrs today the actions required by the Order are still being complied with. Supporting documentation has been submitted that shows:
    • Approximately 18mm of rain has fallen at the site today
    • The landfill cover is in place and remains effective (see above photo)
    • The water management systems are maintained and operational
    • Contingency measures are in place
    • Documentation of inspections and monitoring were provided
  • The ministry has received some preliminary results of sampling conducted by the permittee yesterday (Oct. 14, 2016) at the settling pond outlet and in the creek immediately downstream of the discharge point.  Samples for metals and organics showed that:
    • There were elevated levels of a few metals in the settling pond discharge (iron, chromium, copper and zinc). However, data indicates only very minor exceedances of water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life for chromium and copper at the creek sampling site in the receiving environment
    • There are no exceedances in dissolved metals at the discharge point or in the receiving environment, which would generally be of greater concern given this is the biologically available form
    • All organic results appear to be below detection limits
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health so they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users.
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action.

October 14, 2016:

  • Site status as of 15:00hrs (JPG):
    • The PEA (landfill) cover system and water systems have been functioning well after 73 mm of rain today so far and 74 mm yesterday
    • Contact water from the tarped area has stayed within the containment system
    • Permittee staff continue to actively monitor and inspect, and make any adjustments to the tarps and water conveyance systems as necessary
    • Permittee staff are onsite 24 hours for the duration of this storm system
    • Settling pond is actively discharging and regular samples are being taken
  • Ministry of Environment staff received an update on the site status from the permittee.
  • The permittee reports that the actions required by the Order are still being complied with and provided documentation showing that:
    • The landfill cover is in place and effective
    • The water management systems are maintained and operational.
    • Contingency measures are in place.
    • Documentation of inspections and monitoring were provided.
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action
  • The ministry has received results of sampling conducted near the site on Sunday Oct 9th. At the time of sampling, there was no direct discharge from the settling pond. Samples from the creek immediately downstream of the discharge point showed:
    • Total Suspended Solids & turbidity levels were relatively low (1.4mg/L & 1.32 NTU respectively), no metals exceeded BC water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life, and organics analyses (PAHs & VOCs) were below detection.
    • There was a minor exceedance of sulphate which does not represent any risk to aquatic life as it is being ameliorated by higher hardness levels also observed at the site.
    • Water Quality Results (PDF)
  • The ministry continues to share all data with Island Health to ensure they can assess potential impacts to human health for downstream water users.

October 13, 2016:

  • Ministry of Environment staff conducted an onsite inspection of the CHH property today, October 13, 2016
  • The inspection revealed that the permittee has complied with the immediate actions required by the Order.
  • Infrastructure at the site, including the cover over the landfill, appeared to be in good condition
  • There was no active discharge occurring from the settling pond so no samples were collected
  • Ministry staff will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary will take further action
  • Inspection Report – October 13, 2016 (PDF)

October 12, 2016:

 

South Shawnigan Creek Monitoring Study

In response to concerns expressed by members of the community about water flowing off the site in the fall of 2015, the ministry commissioned an independent watershed monitoring study for the South Shawnigan Creek area. The purpose of the monitoring study is to provide an independent, third party assessment of water quality in South Shawnigan Creek, including areas downstream of Lots 23 and 21 on Stebbings Rd. An independent qualified professional was selected to design and implement the study, which was developed with input from a group consisting of Cowichan Valley Regional District, Shawnigan Residents Association, Cowichan Tribes, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Ministry of Energy and Mines, and Environment Canada. Sampling began in July 2016 and is expected to continue for approximately one year. Reports and documents are posted below.

Other Site Reports & Data