Drug site owners miss deadline for contamination report

 

The owners of a Langley property contaminated by an illegal drug lab missed their deadline to file a report with the provincial Environment Ministry.

The property in the 20600 block of 72nd Avenue was raided by the RCMP in April. The police found a sizeable and sophisticated ecstasy lab, and carted away barrel after barrel of chemicals.

The drug makers had simply been flushing the waste from their work straight out the back of a shed on the property. From there, it had worked its way down the slope, killing off blackberry bushes and leaving puddles of water slick with chemical residue.

The makers had apparently been renting the property for some time.

Neighbours down the hill suddenly had an answer for what that foul smell in the ditch along 207th Street had been. A brown, iron-rich residue had been building up for some time. 

Since then, neighbours have been trying to find out what had happened to their land.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, the owner of the land are responsible for a cleanup, and for any testing of neighbouring properties, if necessary.

No one has yet contacted the neighbours to test their properties.

“Not a word, not a peep,” said Trevor Lassam, who lives directly south and downhill of the former drug lab.

“If we don’t know what’s in it, how is it affecting our health?” Lassam said.

The owners failed to turn over a Site Risk Classification Report to the ministry by an Aug. 30 deadline.

“The ministry followed up with the owner’s agent on Sept. 2,” said a statement from the ministry.

The owners said they couldn’t get their contractor back to finish the testing and report.

Another consultant has been hired, according to the owners.

Lassam was not happy with the missed deadline.

“They have not complied and missed the deadline,” he said in an email to the Langley Advance. “How many times are thye allowed to continue to do this with the MoE’s [Ministry of the Environment’s] blessing?”

Lassam said extensions should not be allowed.

He also raised concerns that test results could be different in the near future. If the fall rains begin in earnest, it could wash some of the contaminants downhill.

“The ministry expects to receive the Site Risk Classification Report along with a proposed schedule to complete work in the next few weeks,” said the ministry statement. “If the responsible party does not respond voluntarily the Ministry of Environment could order the owner to complete the necessary investigation, remediation and report to the ministry.”

Failing to comply could result in charges under the Environmental Management Act. The maximum penalty would be six months in jail and a $200,000 fine.

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