Court decision allows biosolids trucks to roll into Turtle Valley

B.C. Supreme Court judge grants injunction supporting Arrow Transportation

  • May. 9, 2019 4:10 p.m.

Jessica Wallace/Kamloops This Week

The proponent and opponents are happy with a B.C. Supreme Court decision this week that addresses a roadblock set up to block delivery of biosolids to a bison farm.

Arrow Transportation has received an injunction after company trucks at English and Turtle Valley roads were blocked by protesters.

Opponents of the plan to transport biosolids — treated sewage sludge — from the City of Kamloops’ sewage-treatment centre to the Turtle Valley ranch are using vehicles and a large hay bale to block access.

Arrow has a contract with the City of Kamloops to reduce the city’s stockpile and manage, in the short term, its annual tonnage.

Read more: Video: Protesters prevent delivery of treated sludge to Turtle Valley ranch

Read more: Turtle Valley residents seek testing of processed sewage mixture for chemicals

“This decision was a good one for Arrow,” said Jeff Mayer, the company’s environmental services regional manager. “The injunction was granted, the court ruled we did have all the proper paperwork and we met all the regulations and we were approved to proceed with the project.”

However, the injunction does not come into effect until May 18.

The lawyer representing the lone protester named in Arrow’s lawsuit, Connie Seaward, told Kamloops This Week the 10-day delay will provide those who oppose the project time to mount their own legal challenge.

“It means they [biosolids protesters] will now have their opportunity to have their day in court and essentially turn the tables and advance their own application,” Daniel McNamee said.

The two legal arguments against the project, which will see 23,000 tonnes of Kamloops’ stockpiled sewage sludge applied to more than 20 hectares of land at the Turtle Valley Bison Company near Chase, hinge on classification and potential drinking water risks.

The project has been approved by the Ministry of Environment under the purview of land application, but McNamee said it should undergo the stringent requirements of a compost facility — which could require a permit and environmental assessment.

But Mayer said the opposition is confusing regulations.

“This is not a composting facility,” he said. “We’re fabricating a soil that we’re going to apply to land.”

The other legal argument hinges on the type of biosolids — known as Class B, based on the treatment level —and their prohibition from drinking water.

McNamee said overlooked is a groundwater aquifer beneath the Turtle Valley Bison Company that seeps into the Chase water supply.

The Village of Chase gets most of its drinking water from the South Thompson River, but it takes up to 30 per cent annually from the ground, via the Chase Creek aquifer.

McNamee said experts have not confirmed groundwater, but noted mapping and local wells suggest it exists.

Mayer said the aquifer is adjacent to, not below, the project and deep into the ground.

“There’s absolutely no way the biosolids could penetrate that deep into the soil,” Mayer said.

Read more: Letter: Arrow Transportation, Turtle Valley Bison Ranch respond to biosolids concerns

Read more: Letter writer breaks down biosolids and the contaminants within

Prior to the roadblock, Arrow had been trucking biosolids to the ranch and mixing them with native soils to create a soil mixture containing nine per cent biosolids, with plans to apply them to previously logged land for reclamation purposes.

The company maintains it has no plans yet for this year’s biosolids tonnage, an additional 12,500 tonnes.

Arrow went to court to fight the blockade, arguing it amounted to the criminal offences of intimidation and mischief.

The city continues to work on a long-term plan for the city’s biosolids, with a report on options to go before council later this month.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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