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Neighbourhood watchdogs like mud plant report

By Chris Lewis | Aug. 27, 2020

Opponents of a proposed plant for processing offshore oil drilling muds on Hopps Street off Fowlers Road, CBS say they are happy with the latest decision by the provincial government.

On Thursday, July 30, then Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment Derek Bragg announced the final guidelines for an environmental preview report into the plant being proposed by a company called Envirosoil.

Shawn Clarke, one of the residents concerned about the plant, said the minister’s guidelines was a sign that they are being heard.

“(The guidelines) are very detailed, and I believe it covers off, in depth, many of the concerns that were submitted in response to it,” Clarke said. “It looks like the Minister has gone back to the company with a list of things they need to cover. It’s just about everything that the citizens were concerned about, so it’s very encouraging to us to see that he’s asked (Envirosoil) to delve into this deeper, and address these concerns from the people. But, it remains to be seen how the company is going to go about this, and what information they come back with.”

Among the list of things outlined by the residents and the minister is the potential impact of such a plant upon nearby waters. The guidelines look into the construction of a water monitoring station in or near Manuels River. Clarke said he was pleased to see that real-time water monitoring was being brought into the equation as, in the past, he and other residents have become concerned about how the plant’s discharge would affect local waterways.

This way, Clarke said, residents will know almost immediately if something were to happen that could cause contamination –a very important aspect for those residents living near the site who rely on well water.

The residents’ zoning concerns have also come into play in Bragg’s guidelines, leaving it up to Envirosoil to explain how the facility would fit into the current classification of General Light Industrial. This is something Clarke is particularly interested in seeing, as he stated that as it stands, the plant simply does not fit within that type of zoning.

The minister’s guidelines focus right down to the number of vehicles that would go in and out of the proposed facility. Although it had been previously stated by the proponents that the plant would see some three or four incoming trucks a day, both Clarke and Bragg are looking for an expected number of vehicles leaving the plant.

“There’s a lot to this, and the Minister is saying that he needs more information. Personally, I’m encouraged by that,” Clarke said. “In terms of the storm water retention, we raised that issue as well. What happens in the event of another situation like Hurricane Igor? The Minister has gone back to them and said, ‘Yeah, what about that?’ He’s asked them to provide a description of the capacity of the storm water retention pond and its ability to contain the surface run-off and process water during normal operations, and also in combination with those extreme weather events.”

Although the list of things outlined by Bragg is lengthy, some of the other issues raised by residents that are featured on the list include things such as the storage of waste and final products, a hydrogeological assessment to verify groundwater flows near residences and Manuels River, and more detailed information as to where the plant could go if it is decided that Hopps Street is not a good fit. In the past, Envirosoil has stated that they do have an alternate location in mind, but no further information had been released.

Clarke said this bodes well for the future of the project, clarifying that neither he or the other concerned residents are opposed to the project entirely. Instead, they want to see it built in a more reasonable location or, at the very least, be able to ensure that their neighbourhood will not be at stake once the plant is erected.

Now, Clarke said, it’s back to the waiting game to see what will come of Envirosoil’s report.

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