With little fanfare or media coverage, the BC Ministry of Environment recently released the Remedial Options Feasibility Report for the Union Bay Waste Coal Pile Site in Union Bay.
This “cleanup plan,” years in the making, has the desired outcome of “improvement over time” of the conditions at the Waste Coal Pile Site.
The Waste Coal Pile Site is the result of coal processing/shipping along the shores of Union Bay from 1888 to 1960, and covers an area of approximately 13 hectares and contains around one million cubic metres of material.
Residents of the Comox Valley might find it surprising that the Waste Coal Pile Site in Union Bay, is also listed as one of the top 13 priority contaminated sites on Crown Land in British Columbia.
While the report discusses various remediation alternatives, the selected remedy appears to be a “cover-only” approach using a bituminous geomembrane (BGM) and vegetative cover. The price tag for this remedy is an estimated $17 million.
This Union Bay Waste Coal Pile cleanup saga should serve as a cautionary tale for those concerned about the proposed Raven Coal Mine near Fanny Bay.
The estimated reject rock pile at the Raven Mine would be over 10 times larger than the Union Bay site, and the potential costs of cleaning up the Raven Mine site would be staggering.
While it’s still not clear who will pick up the tab for the $17-million cleanup bill at Union Bay, the lessons learned from the Mount Washington mine cleanup would indicate the taxpayers of British Columbia might be on the hook once again.