Semiahmoo First Nation land 'polluted by cities'

A crew starts to work on a soil remediation project on Semiahmoo First Nation land in the former Semiahmoo Park next to Marine Drive. - Alex Browne photo
A crew starts to work on a soil remediation project on Semiahmoo First Nation land in the former Semiahmoo Park next to Marine Drive.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

Work underway on the former site of Semiahmoo Park is a “contaminated soil and waste remediation project” for a decades-old dumpsite and landfill, according to a news release from Semiahmoo First Nation.

Initial brush-clearing work last week – which brought a backhoe and other equipment to the fenced-in section of the Semiahmoo Reserve just across Marine Drive from White Rock, between Habgood and Kiel streets – had provoked the curiosity of nearby residents, several of whom called Peace Arch News.

According to residents, several large holes were subsequently dug – and soil was removed – before the holes were filled in again.

While Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Joanne Charles could not be reached by PAN press time for an interview, she said in a news release sent Thursday that during the period that Surrey leased the whole area as a community park between 1943 and 1996, the project site had also been used by both Surrey and White Rock in the 1950s and 1960s for disposal of commercial and municipal wastes and installation of municipal infrastructure.

She said that site investigation conducted since 2007 – including an environmental  assessment for human health and ecological risk – has shown that while some of the material on the land is identifiably municipal solid waste, other soil has been found to be contaminated, through laboratory testing.

Aim of the current project, she said, is to remove both the solid waste and contaminated soil “to the extents practical without altering the stream banks of the (Little Campbell) river.”

Charles said the remediation of the site will return the land to “pre-excavation grade” with fills that are geo-technically stable enough to permit future development – although she added that Semiahmoo First Nation “does not have any plans for future development at this time.”

Both White Rock and Surrey are working with Semiahmoo First Nation to ensure that municipal services on the site that are still in use are identified, while others are decommissioned, Charles said.

The project is believed to be funded by the federal government, but MP Russ Hiebert’s office could not confirm that at press time.


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