Toxic Sludge and the CRD

Toxic Sludge and the CRD

Walt McGinnis Citizen Reporter Jan 15, 2018 Victoria BC

The McLaughlin Point Sewage Treatment Plant will produce hundreds of tons of toxic sludge that will be stored permanently at the Hartland landfill. How could the Capital Regional District directors make such a terrible series of decisions that led to this? And the worst thing is we cannot do a thing about it because the CRD is not elected.

It appears that the directors of the Capital Regional District and their public relations staff are trying to maneuver around two big problems of their own creation.

The CRD problems started when they approved the undersized McLaughlin Point treatment plant which will be overwhelmed soon after it is opened, according to their engineering company, Stantec.  With the plant being overloaded chemicals will have to be added to the process. As a result the plant will produce chemically laden sewage sludge that is deemed to be toxic and cannot be used safely in anyway, including incineration.

Things began to get strange on Jan 11, 2018 when the CRD with director Lisa Helps taking the lead announced that they would not be burning the sludge but for reasons unrelated to protecting the environment. They claimed that they would not have enough garbage to mix with the sludge in order for it to be incinerated to create electricity. The shortage of garbage was the deciding factor. Incredibly they did not mention any concerns about the sludge’s toxicity. It was a public relations maneuver that takes your breath away for its brazenness.

In fact the CRD have never acknowledged the environmental damage that the burning of chemical laden sludge would cause. It seems that the CRD has been more concerned about covering their behinds than protecting our health.  As a result of their shenanigans we will end up with hundreds of tons of toxic sludge stored permanently at the top of our watershed at Hartland Landfill, ready to trickle down into our environment.  It will be an accident waiting to happen, a constant threat to contaminate our streams our lakes and our water wells for many generations.

Read more about this in an article by David Broadland  in the Nov 7, 2016 Focus Magazine article called The CRD hid McLaughlin Points fatal Flaw.

The article states; the sludge can’t be incinerated, used as fertilizer, or recycled in any useful way. UBC engineering professor Dr Don Mavinic, an expert on sewage treatment, told Focus in 2014: “This is a huge problem in Ontario right now. It’s become very contentious. Very few landfills will accept the sludge now. Most incinerators won’t touch it. Ontario has ended up with this chemical soup that has to be stored somewhere because you can’t do anything with it.”

 This article points out several other major flaws with the design of the treatment plant that should also be noted as more problems unfold.

  On Jan 11, 2018 the Times Colonist reported that the sludge will now be dried and stored and “perhaps sent off to be burned as fuel in cement kilns.”

Perhaps Director Lisa Helps, the CRD staff and the editors of the Times Colonist all know, but dare not mention, that this sludge is toxic to all lifeforms and cannot be reused safely in any manner.

Perhaps the public should be informed about the risks the CRD are taking with our health.

Perhaps as well, we should think about why we are not demanding that the CRD directors be held accountable for their actions by, for starters, holding free and fair elections for  the directors of the CRD.

I asked CRD director Lisa Helps by voicemail if she was aware that the chemical laden sludge could not be incinerated safely. She has not returned my call.


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