Protestors were again at Kamloops City Hall on Thursday, opposing a biosolids-spreading project that continues to be blocked in Turtle Valley, near Chase.
Protestors planned to be at city hall between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the second time they have turned up on the city’s doorstep in about a month.
Arrow Transportation has been hired by the City of Kamloops to manage the city’s treated sewage sludge — also known as biosolids — in the short term as the city continues to work on a long-term management strategy.
The plan is to truck the biosolids from the city’s waste-treatment plant on Mission Flats to the Turtle Valley Bison Company’s ranch in the Shuswap, where it will be applied on the land.
Turtle Valley resident Connie Seaward said protestors are calling for answers from the mayor and council on testing of an aquifer under the bison ranch they say is being ignored.
“If it’s so safe, then can we please have a paper copy showing that the testing has been done?” Seaward asked.
Seaward and others were blocking Arrow’s access to the bison ranch, but they dismantled their blockade when a court injunction went into effect on May 18, prohibiting them from blocking access.
However, a group calling itself the Secwepemc Elders Sacred Fire immediately moved in and continues to block access to the bison ranch.
The group states the Secwepemc people never gave consent to “dump the biosolids on our territory” and vows it will continue to block access, despite court orders.
“They don’t have the acting authority to do anything on our land,” spokesperson Miranda Dick said. “We do not give permission. We had no consultation and don’t give consent.”
Arrow Environmental Services regional manager Jeff Mayer said the project continues to be on hold as the company engages with the community and First Nations.
“We’re working diligently to try and come to an amicable resolution to address these people’s concerns,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ve proven that the project is safe and responsible.”
Asked to comment on the issue of the aquifer below the ranch, Mayer said he would not speak about it as the issue will go before the courts next week, when opponents of the plan seek counter-injunction.
However, Mayer did comment on the aquifer issue in a May 9 KTW story.
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 told KTW at the time.
The two legal arguments opponents will make next week against the project — which will see 23,000 tonnes of Kamloops’ stockpiled sewage sludge applied to more than 20 hectares of land at bison ranch — 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 opponents say it should undergo the stringent requirements of a compost facility — which could require a permit and environmental assessment.
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, which is where the aquifer argument enters the debate..
Prior to the roadblocks, 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.