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  Outfall Marine Life

Advocacy group seeks answes to to greater Victoria’s sewage questions

Roszan Holmen, Victoria News and Saanich News, October 14, 2010

As ARESST passes its one-year anniversary, the activist group opposed to secondary sewage treatment continues to questions the changing plans of the Capital Regional District.

Under the microscope now is the proposal to put a sludge treatment plant at the Hartland Landfill or an alternative site.

“We’re questioning what they’re going to do with it,” said Shaun Peck, former medical health officer for the B.C. Health Ministry and a board member at large for ARESST. “Are they going to turn it into energy on site? Are they going to send it to cement kilns in Vancouver by barge? They’re talking about all these things.”

Peck points to a great deal of uncertainty about the environmental effects of treating sludge.

At its core, ARESST opposes the province’s directive to the CRD to introduce a secondary sewage treatment system.

It believes the current plan will be costly but do nothing to improve the health of our ocean environment and little to prevent trace amounts of chemicals.

The greenhouse gases produced by the plants would equal emissions 7,736 automobiles annually, said Peck.

“The two deep-sea outfalls that treat the sewage naturally would no question be the best thing to do from an environmental point of view.”

While the CRD is working to meet its commitments, Peck insists no decision is irreversible until a contract for the construction has been signed.

ARESST has about 80 members. It hosted its annual general meeting last night in Victoria. University of Victoria professor emeritus Jack Littlepage gave a public lecture before the event.

The CRD was ordered to create a secondary sewage treatment centre by the B.C. Environment Ministry. Costs to construct and run the facilities could be as high as $800 million.

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