Sacred fire unites Secwepemc opposition to use of biosolids

Secwepemc Elders Sacred Fire sees elders take stand against use of treated sewage

A sacred fire now serves as a symbol unifying Secwepemc opposition to use of biosolids on a Turtle Valley ranch.

The Secwepemc Elders Sacred Fire was lit to stop the treated sewage (biosolids) from being trucked to the Chase area from Kamloops for use at the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch. It is part of a protest that started after the BC Supreme Court granted Arrow Transportation a court injunction to address a previous public roadblock that was preventing Arrow trucks from accessing the ranch.

“Concerns from Secwepemc and the local residents that have been largely ignored involve the potential for contamination of soil, water and crops in the area, fueled by studies which show the potential for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and metal residue being present in the biosolids,” states a release from Secwepemc’Ulecw Grassroots. “Both dumping locations are on top of some of the Secwepemc greatest local aquifers and therefore pose a huge threat to all beings that depend on that water.

“The proposed area where the biosolids will be dumped is near a steep hillside that overlooks Chum Lake and nearby Chum Creek, where important habitats which connect with the Shuswap watershed, such as the painted turtle, is now one of many on the endangered species list. Protecting the watershed and the food chain are among the Secwepemc biggest concerns.”

The Grassroots release notes Turtle Valley is unceded Secwepemc territory.

In a May 2019 letter to the editor, Arrow Transportation’s Tim Bell and Arrow Environmental’s Jeff Mayer state the company doesn’t take on projects that cannot be done responsibly and safely.

Read more: Letter: Biosolids plan poses risk to lake, creeks and river

Read more: Effectiveness of human waste as fertilizer examined during community meeting

”We are not fertilizing an existing crop through direct surface application of biosolids on a regular basis. Instead, we are turning disturbed, non-agricultural land into healthy agricultural land, by making and applying a fabricated soil,” states the letter, signed by Bell, Mayer and the bison ranch’s Conrad Schiebel. “This soil, comprising nine per cent biosolids, will provide nutrients and organic matter to the existing mineral soil in order to establish and sustain a perennial grass pasture.

“This fabricated soil enables nutrients to release slowly over time, meaning the site will not require additional fertilization for five or more years. This is a responsible and safe biosolids project with significant support.”

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

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

Secwepemc’Ulecw Grassroots has launched a petition on change.org, asking for public support in stopping

the “dumping of biosolid waste on our traditional territory, Secwepemc’ulecw.”

The petition states that as the “rightful and proper title holders to Secwepemc’ulecw, any and all projects taking place within our territory are subject to consent to be obtained from all members of the Secwepemc Nation.”


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