A Township councillor is concerned that pollutants from two industrial facilities in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights business park may impact the potable water supply in neighbouring Brookswood/Fernridge.
Petrina Arnason made a motion at Monday evening’s council meeting (April 24) — which passed by an 8-1 vote — to have the Township correspond with the Fraser Health local drinking water officer on the potential negative effects that Ebco and Weir may have on the Brookswood aquifer.
Both Ebco — which provides metal finishing and hot-dip galvanizing services — and Weir — which manufactures rubber-lined steel pipes — have applied to Metro Vancouver for air quality permits to discharge contaminants.
Although the Township has already sent a letter to Metro Vancouver stating their opposition to the permits, Arnason believes the issue needs to be taken a step further. She said the industrialization in the southern Campbell Heights area has “no benefit” to the Township of Langley, aside from some employment, and that “the potential is for the residents there to bear all the risks.”
“I guess, in a nutshell, my concern is what I’ve heard so far and what residents have told me. It has been very frustrating to be part of a process where, currently, Metro Vancouver gets to decide based on very discreet and select information whether or not they (Ebco and Weir) will get a permit, which is going to allow these emissions,” she said.
“But I don’t feel that the way that this is put forward is really looking at a number of things, including the cumulative effect of a series of similar proposals, nor the risk to the unconfined and sensitive Brookswood/Fernridge aquifer.”
While Metro Vancouver has jurisdiction over air quality, water management falls under the provincial and local governments. According to the Township of Langley Water Management Plan, the Brookswood aquifer — which is located partly in the City of Langley, Brookswood/Fernridge and South Surrey — is one of the most vulnerable aquifers in the Fraser Valley.
Arnason is concerned that even though Ebco and Weir may be meeting guidelines for safe levels of contaminants, they could be the first of many companies hoping to move into Campbell Heights and discharge pollutants.
“I think we need to go forward doing what we can do within our own jurisdiction to make sure that we do protect our drinking water recharge area,” she said.
Earlier that day, during the afternoon council meeting, Coun. Kim Richter also made a motion related to the air quality permits. She wanted the Township send another letter to Metro Vancouver stating their objection. Her motion was defeated, with several councillors stating they would like to give Metro Vancouver more time to respond to the Township’s first letter, which was sent on Friday (April 21).
“Is there something more that we can do to make it very clear to Metro Vancouver that we are not in support of this air permit that they’re in the position to be able to pass?” Richter asked.
“I think there’s so many unanswered questions, with regards to the caustic nature of the emissions that will be coming out of this as well as the potential impact of these emissions on our water supply … the air quality and the vegetation habitat around this plant. So Brookswood will be significantly impacted, the residents down there are understandably extremely concerned, and I think we need to take a stand.”