VICTORIA B.C. – Minister of Environment Mary Polak quietly changed the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) on Oct. 27, dramatically increasing the allowable limit for substances harmful to human health such as DEHP, which is banned in the European Union, carcinogens and copper.
“These changes come at a time when communities across BC like Shawnigan are desperately trying to protect their water and soil in the face of government negligence,” said B.C. Green Party deputy leader Sonia Furstenau. “In these already dire situations, Minister Polak is not seeking solutions; she is stubbornly pursuing further deregulation. I am tired of a government that does not take seriously the protection of its citizens.
“The Ministry’s new approach to pollution seems to be to decrease the number of polluted sites by increasing the allowable limits of pollutants, not by eliminating the pollutants,” added Furstenau, who is also the B.C. Green Party candidate for Cowichan Valley. “There is no vestige of the precautionary principle, which would put human health above corporate and industry interests. Rural communities should be particularly concerned with the government’s changes. Contaminated soil is being moved out of urban centres and deposited in rural communities around B.C,, putting water and soil at risk.
“The Minister claims that there has been significant consultation. However, many of the face-to-face meetings ministry staff had were with industry groups. Only one rural district – Central Okanagan Regional District – had face-to-face meetings. What is also lacking from the Ministry is evidence that the changes are science-based; I call on the Minister to provide independent and peer-reviewed scientific evidence that justifies the increases to allowable limits of contaminants.”
“There is a growing awareness in the B.C. Interior of the serious risks posed in making rural communities the 'dumping grounds' of the urban centers,” added Dan Hines, B.C. Green Party candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson. “Many people are waking up to see that we must stop becoming B.C.'s toxic landfill and the out-of-sight place to deal with urban biosolids: pollutants not adequately regulated before these recent changes. These new and increasingly lax regulations for contaminated soils, solely for the benefit of company profits, make it much more difficult to protect our water and our health.”
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Update on Contaminated Sites, Ministry of Environment, Oct. 27, 2016.
Stage 10 (Omnibus) amendments to the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) (Ministerial Order M. 426), Minister of Environment, Oct. 27, 2016.
B.C. Liberal caucus response to CSR criticism, Nov. 23, 2016
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