Province tells RWL Holdings to stop release of waste into Barbara Weit River

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Chris Wall points to heavily silted water coming from the RWL Holdings Ltd. potato wash plant in Travellers Rest. Wall has been complaining to the P.E.I. Department of Environment since May over the state of the water leaving the plant and ending up in the Barbara Weit River.

TRAVELLERS REST Concerns over the quality of the wastewater from a high-speed potato wash facility has resulted in the P.E.I. Department of Environment shutting down the operation.

The Department of Environment advised RWL Holdings Ltd. Friday to stop all releases of wash water from the property. The water stopped flowing by late morning.

The company will now have to put a plan in place to deal with the water issue.

“Over the last two months, too much silt laden wash was being generated at the operation,” the department said in a statement sent to TC Media.

The move by the province comes after weeks of complaints filed by area resident Chris Wall.

“The issue here is the new potato washing plant that was constructed here in New Annan and to my knowledge they didn’t have any environmental assessment done,” Wall said. “They were suppose to reclaim 80 per cent of their water and the last time I talked to the environment department they were only reclaiming about 40 per cent.”

Wall said the company claims they have improved that since then with some additional equipment.

“But the water is being allowed to drain out of the facility along side of the Confederation Trail underneath the McMurdo Road and its running down into the head waters of the Barbara Weit River,” Wall said. “That water shouldn’t be leaving the property until properly treated. The way it looks right now it’s certainly not properly treated.”

In February, ACOA invested $500,000 towards the purchase of equipment for the operation and the provincial Department of Agriculture invested $69,000.

Austin Roberts, co-owner of RWL Holdings Ltd. could not be reached for comment.

“The Barbara Weit River has been used too long as a dumping ground for individuals and corporations and it’s time to clean up the river and don’t allow this type of activity to continue,” added Wall.

“This is the 21st century not 1800s.”

Wall said he is concerned about the future of the river.

“The Barbara Weit River is not very far from going anoxic,” he said. “I was told that there was too much suspended solids entering the watershed. That creates oxygen demand and that will lead to an anoxic event or help speed up an anoxic event.”

The river, he said, has been somewhat improved because of the additional treatment facilities at nearby Cavendish Farms.

“But we’re taking baby steps ahead,” Wall said.

Wall said Department of Environment officials have told him that new equipment is on order to help deal with the issue.

“But all the time they’re telling me this the water is allowed to continue to run,” he said.

“I can’t believe the environment department would idly sit by and allow this to happen. They’re supposed to be protecting the environment. It’s a detrimental operation to the environment and to the Barbara Weit River.”

Organizations: Department of Environment, RWL Holdings, PEI Department Department of Agriculture

Geographic location: Barbara Weit River, New Annan, McMurdo Road

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  • How It Is
    July 26, 2014 - 08:47

    And they would have continued to let it ruin the river without thought if Mr. Wall had not pestered the dept. of Environment. What the heck is wrong with people? The potato industry is going to ruin this island for everyone if they don't smarten up.