The New Democrats are accusing BC’s Environment Ministry of not taking action to prevent a sewage lagoon breach in Spallumcheen.
More than 120-thousand gallons of liquid manure spilled from Grace Mar Farms last week above the Hullcar aquifer water supply.
In the BC Legislature, Environment critic George Heyman says the farm was sent a warning letter by the ministry last April saying the storage pond wasn’t big enough, but no corrective actions were taken.
“Can the Environment Minister explain to area residents why her government took no action, completely failed them, and let 10 months go by while taking no action to protect Hullcar residents’ drinking water supply? asked Heyman.
Environment Minister Mary Polak calls the accusation ridiculous, saying staff are working on solutions to the complex issue involving an unconfined aquifer.
“Staff through an inter-ministry working group have been engaged over the course of more than a year. Our ministry has issued pollution prevention and abatement orders to nine different agricultural operations. They will continue to work with the community and operators to try and find a way to bring this aquifer to a state where it has its water advisory removed, but it’s a long term challenge,” said Polak.
Polak also pointed out it’s not just about one farm.
“Right here is evidence before us that we have a challenge that will take multiple actions and deal with multiple agriculture operations, and we’re doing that,” added the minister.
Polak also started her reply by apologizing to community members and the local First Nations for not informing them about the spill in a timely manner.
“And as result, that created an awful lot of anxiety in the community around what was happening.”
The township and some residents say they didn’t know about it for up to two days.
Courtenay Hesketh, Manager of Environmental Health with Interior Health, was asked by Kiss FM about the impact of the spill to water systems.
“From the information we have received from MoE (Ministry of Environment) so far, we understand the spill has not impacted any licensed drinking water systems or ground water sources. We remain in contact with MoE as it continues to respond, and we will continue to support MoE as the lead agency as required,” said Hesketh in an email.
CLICK HERE to watch the debate.