Are arsenic, barium, and other chemicals being dumped onto land adjacent to the Dawson Creek watershed onto a field on Road 235, and near to the city’s Kiskatinaw water intake? And is more dumping planned for upwind of Parkland School? Is it industrial waste?
These questions and more are what Road 235 area residents have been asking - and getting no answers from anyone.
Area landowners are documented as and include Ralph and Rose Hawryluk, Lorne Ireland, William McDougall, Inge-Jean Hansen, and more. Their lands are adjacent or near a portion of the Dawson Creek watershed.
Many say they are being lied to, and kept in the dark about what exactly the material is in the trucks, and how much is being hauled out and dumped 600 feet from home and land daily and adjacent to the Dawson Creek watershed.
“This (s*#t) runs downhill off the mountain and right through my land. I can’t get a phone call returned and we were not told about any of it – despite it being directly beside us and uphill above us—it all drains right into our land. We are being poisoned,” says Ralph Hawryluk.
Hawryluks say a ten year long neighbor is looking to move after learning RCMP were told to stop looking into the matter. The Hawryluks have contacted almost every elected official in the South Peace saying their land and water are being poisoned – including the RCMP - and have not gotten one returned call.
“No response is what happens every time,” says Rose.
At some point during the summer months, every hour sees truckload after truckload of soil material has been hauled from Louisiana-Pacific by Celtic Construction to the higher ground above their land and is being dumped - and it continues to this day through the winter months.
In August, PRRD bylaw enforcement wrote a letter to the Hawryluks, noting PRRD officials simply asked the landowner, who is also owner of the trucking company doing the dumping, what was going on.
“The PRRD received confirmation that there are no intentions to deposit industrial waste onto the property. The owner confirmed only soil and vegetation that has passed environmental testing will be deposited. This bylaw enforcement file has been closed,” said bylaw enforcement officer to Erin Price to the Hawryluk’s in August.
The area is surrounded by either residents, and/or the Dawson Creek watershed and seemingly no one can get any answers.
City of Dawson Creek officials were as forthcoming on the matter when asked about their names on documents, and if they had concerns about the matter being dumped.
“No comment,” said Dawson Creek Watershed coordinator Chelsea Mottishaw, confirming Louisiana-Pacific were responsible for the product, Celtic Construction responsible for the hauling and dumping, and that the city had “not a lot” of concern about the material being dumped.
“It is their work and their job.”
However city reports indicate watershed staff, and other city staff - have been out to the specific site location almost monthly up to this month.
Dawson Creek resident Rick Lowcay believes it is poison – pure and simple.
Lowcay says this operation is an industrial waste dumping site, and everyone is looking the other way.
“It adds up to everyone saying they need no PRRD or provincial permits, as they are mixing clean dirt with industrial waste,” he asserts.
What about 30 percent of material analyzed that does not meet the CSR agriculture land use standards. Why not? What is in it, it should not be this hard to figure out,” Lowcay says. The Hawyrluks also say the land was zoned residential up until recently, and while it may be zoned Ag Holdings now, it is clearlysurrounded by residents.
“Dilution is not a solution for pollution to lower arsenic and barium levels to meet any standards. Right now I would estimate they have dumped more than 3,000 truckloads of waste,” adds Lowcay.
Natural Resource Officer Jeff Cox says the landowners doing the dumping were fined in early February for diverting a stream.
“We received a complaint and went up and conducted inspections around water sustainability," says Cox.
"The work that is going on there diverted a stream without authority, it was being redirected," says Cox.
The landowners doing the dumping were fined in February of 2019 as diversion of streams is a continuous offense.
Cox noted when it comes to pollution and the environment, this is a different jurisdiction than a natural resource officer.
David Karn with the Ministry of Environment says the program of soil relocation associated with the re-purposing of the Dawson Creek Louisiana Pacific OSB plant to an OSB siding manufacturing facility has been underway for several months now.
“In that time the ministry has received numerous public complaints and, as a result, has been regularly monitoring this issue,” he says.
“Ministry staff will continue to monitor this activity though its completion. In the event of identified non-compliance with the Environmental Management Act, the ministry will respond in accordance with its Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Procedure.”
We will be filing more on this - it is developing.