The Comox Valley Regional District is in the process of obtaining a permanent injunction to stop a contentious shipbreaking operation in Union Bay.
In April, the CVRD filed a notice of civil claim to halt the operation at 5084 Island Highway South, but Deep Water Recovery (DWR) continues to conduct the business. Members of the Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound (CCOBS) and the K’ómoks First Nation have said that shipbreaking at this site is threatening Baynes Sound, in terms of leaching asbestos and other hazardous materials into the ocean.
“At this time, the CVRD is fully committed and significantly into the process of obtaining a permanent injunction to cease the use of this site for shipbreaking purposes,” the district said in a statement to The Record.
The notice is still with the court. The district said DWR responded to its notice and denies it is operating in contravention of Industrial Marine (IM) zoning. The CVRD does not have the ability to issue a stop work order for land use violations, but any continued use of the property for shipbreaking will be used as principal evidence in the case against DWR.
Concerns about potential contaminates in the vessels and exposure to the workers on site can be reported to WorkSafe BC, the district added.
“The CVRD does not have a mechanism that would address concerns over contaminates on the vessels,” the statement said.
The CCOBS says workers at the site have been welding holes into the walls of the Miller Freeman which, according to auction documents, is filled with asbestos.
“Every school in the district is filled with asbestos, isn’t it?” Mark Jurisich of DWR said. “The Miller Freeman’s been remediated…At the end of the day, if you were doing something wrong, you’b be shut down overnight.”
Transport Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, have both said they have no record of the Miller Freeman ship entering Canada.
Following a January inspection, the B.C. Environment Ministry said DWR was found to be out of compliance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA).
A permit is required for effluent discharge the ministry observed at the site, which resulted in a warning being issued. In July, the company applied for an EMA effluent permit. That application is being reviewed.
“Discharges to the environment are not permitted unless they have an authorization to do so,” the ministry said in a statement to The Record.
The ministry has conducted multiple site visits, including last week. As a result of the latest inspection, staff are preparing a report to assess compliance with the EMA.
“We take this matter very seriously and are continuing to investigate concerns surrounding potential pollution from Union Bay,” the statement says.