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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chevron Won't Remove Contaminated Soil

The above was the title of a news item reported on the Wednesday, January 12, 2011 edition of the Burnaby Now. The article proceeds to say, "While Chevron is legally obligated to stop the oil that's been seeping downhill from the North Burnaby refinery since last spring, the company has no plans to remediate the onsite soil, and the provincial Environment Ministry isn't going to force them..." The article proceeds to say that Chevron can't locate the source of the leak. They have had extraction wells on their property since 2004, which tells me that Chevron has known about leakage since that time, and yet nothing has been done to remedy the situation. This non-action appears to be enabled by the provincial Environment Ministry who refuses to enforce the law to stop leaks and remove contaminated soil — and apparently, it's supposed to be okay with the neighboring residents.
Yet, private property owners by law must remove old oil tanks and any contaminated soil at their own expense. Why is Chevron exempt from this mandate? Anyone who has removed a private-residence oil tank knows how, over the years, the metal disintegrates to the point of being unusable. Any oil leak would start out small, but as time went on the leak would only grow larger, due to the corrosive nature of the metal.
In our residential situation, my partner took immediate action with an old oil tank. He consulted the City of Vancouver and was advised to empty the tank and fill it with sand, which would absorb any remnants of oil. That action enabled a safer and less-expensive cleanup in the long run—when the time came to remove the tank, which had seriously corroded to the point of being unusable. I appreciate my partner's action. He did not ask the City, "How can I cover up this mess?" Nor did he offer a bribe. Instead, he chose to act responsibly by asking, "What is the environmentally-responsible course of action?"
Chevron holds many commercial-size tanks that are disentegrating and have not been replaced or upgraded. Much contaminated soil remains on site — so much in fact, that oil is leaking downhill into Burrard inlet, yet it seems to be business as usual at Chevron, with oil tankers sitting in the berth at the refinery, according to The Vancouver Sun.
If Chevron continues to use the tanks for storage, they are wasting valuable time. It is imperative that they remediate while the window of opportunity still remains open. Not only oil tanks, but all contaminated soil, must be legally disposed of. After the tank has been removed and soil remediation completed, a certificate must be issued by the city after passing a remediation test. Clearly, Chevron's oil mess is much larger than any private residence. The laws described at apply to both residential and commercial situations in British Columbia. Again, why is Chevron exempt from even the first step, that of closing down their refinery to remedy the situation? Curiou$ly, The Mini$try of Environment has $tated in the article, "...the Company is not required to remediate the refinery itself while it continues to operate as an industrial site." Do you $uppose that large sum$ of money have cro$$ed palm$ $omewhere to account for the di$crepancy in the application of these laws?
Often, it seems that $$$ is the only language that commercial companies understand. Perhaps the City of Burnaby will initiate a law suit against Chevron. Of course, that only applies if they are not in Chevron's pockets.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

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