Toquaht Bay access to Broken Group closed

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by mick_allen, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Very interesting. The Toquaht Bay road access, marina, campground and boat launch are closed until further
    notice for environmental testing for arsenic likely from the mine tailings that make up the site.
    It'll be closed for a minimum of 8 weeks - this sounds serious, so I wonder how long it will really be.

    Alternate access to the Broken Group will be Ucluelet.

    http://toquahtbay.com/
    http://toquahtbay.com/2013-images/CampgroundClosureInformationBulletinFAQs.pdf

    here's an interesting report from the 1980's:
    http://aris.empr.gov.bc.ca/ArisReports/12580.PDF
     
  2. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Wow... sure happy I've never eaten those oysters!!! (Huge oyster beach at that launch site).

    However, it is a MAJOR launch site for paddlers headed to the Broken Group... hope it opens soon.
     
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Hard to say what the outcome is likely to be without more information. Arsenic and selenium are frequent contaminants in mine tailings. I suspect much will depend on the distribution and particle size associated with the contaminants. The coarse gray sand/tailings at the campground site, if uniformly contaminated, would be a monstrous containment project ... expensive as hell.

    I believe the mine was extracting iron ore, wasn't it? Unfortunately, my Samsung tablet won't let me view the pdf files Mick cited.

    I think we'll be waiting a while on this. I sure hope the access road is not heavily contaminated ... that's a dusty one, and I know I have taken in several thousand lungfuls of that stuff.
     
  4. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    I spoke with both Government and Toquaht today.

    Government:
    - Kayak access to launch from beach CLOSED. (Entire site is closed).
    - Testing should be done over next 8 weeks
    - after testing decision on future will be made (re-open, partial open, perm closed)
    - Toquaht are in the process of developing / getting permission to offer an alternative camp / launch location nearby




    Having spent many days launching from that beach... wow. I have seen so many people eating the Oysters from that beach... wow
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Liam,

    This is not a simple situation. They need to figure out areas of high contamination, and the form it is in, plus the degree to which any contamination reaches marine species, particularly ones people like to eat.

    For sure, oysters should be looked at carefully, as they are relatively nonspecific filterfeeders, and very widespread. Until it is established that arsenic/selenium levels of concern actually exist in bivalves, we are just guessing. I suspect the agencies don't know yet what the chemical forms of the contaminants are and whether or not they are tightly or loosely bound to bottom sediments. Depending on the action of benthic organisms, arsenic, etc, tied up in sediments might or might not migrate into the water column and thence into filter feeders. So much depends on the binding to the substrate, in this case the mine tailings.

    It is worth waiting for what they find out before deciding whether things like oysters will be safe to eat. Lets hope they do a good, thorough job. I think we all knew the tailings were there, and for many years. Now we will find out if there is a problem. Thank god it appears there is no mercury or cadmium.
     
  6. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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  7. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Does this not sound a bit like bureaucratic overkill? As if kayakers are at risk by launching from there, as if access couldn't be managed while studies are being done, as if it should be a surprise to anyone that high arsenic levels are found in an area where arsenic has been found to occur naturally in unusually high levels...

    I'm cynical after following the issue of dumping contaminated soil from Victoria sites into forests within the Cowichan River watershed. I would have thought the soil would be treated, but no, contaminated soil is simply moved and dumped elsewhere in the woods. So I have no faith the outcome here will be better. Prove me wrong?
     
  8. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    For what it's worth, I wouldn't worry too much about selenium, especially. But for occasional visitors eating some oysters or breathing dust, it's likely not an issue at all. Selenium is an essential mineral that your body needs, you'll find it added to your vitamins and cereal. One of the side effects of high selenium levels is garlic breath.

    For fish, it's another story as it can cause deformities in juveniles. Again for them it's an essential mineral, but it's a fine line between sufficient amounts and too much with a harmful effect. Mammals tolerate higher levels with no ill effects. So, I'd be more concerned about the effect on the fish in the streams and spawning in that region than on the people, especially those of us who are transient visitors.

    I am only speaking to selenium because that's what I'm familiar with (but am not an expert). However, even with arsenic I'm more concerned with the wildlife and ecology than I am with the people. Local residents with a lifetime of exposure are of course at much higher risk from any contaminant than those of us who visit for several days or several weeks.

    As they like to say here at work, "the dose defines the poison". In other words, these compounds exist in the environment and do us no harm or are even beneficial (as is selenium), but too much of anything is harmful.

    I hope for the sake of the local wildlife and the local residents that the assessment has a positive result.

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  9. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    I agree with jk that there is an element of CYA in the reaction ... ignorant as I am of what was found to trigger this response.

    I don't think, however, that a widespread, surface deposit of arsenic-contaminated particulate material is comparable to a seam of arsenic laden minerals, as is often the case for "natural" arsenic sources.

    Lets hope they get in there and get out quickly, with a clear delineation of any areas to avoid.
     
  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    And that it's the mining company that has to pay for any testing and remediation and not the taxpayer (but don't hold your breath).
     
  11. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/337417/ ... island-b-c

    It looks like there is a company that thinks Brynnor Mine is economically viable.

    http://loganresources.blogspot.ca/2009/ ... n-pit.html

    Note the mention of road access and a deep water port facility 7.5 miles away.

    Where would that deep water port facility be ???

    http://loganresources.blogspot.ca/searc ... results=11

    Toquart Bay ... too bad about the port facility currently being used as a recreation site.

    Arsenic? Yeah, we've known about that for some time. Why is it now an issue?
     
  12. bigbear

    bigbear Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Looks to me like the next best place to access the Broken Group is from the store at the reservation. I'm sure they will charge fees but they would be nuts not to jump on it just for the revenue generated.
    http://toquahtbay.com/store.html
     
  13. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    For any paddlers on the west coast, there is a Community meeting to chat about the Toquaht Closure.

    Toquaht Closure Community Meeting
    Tuesday, April 2, 2013
    6:30-8:30pm
    Ucluelet Community Center

    I'll be there...
     
  14. bigbear

    bigbear Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Please update all. Especially as to alternative launch points.....
     
  15. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Yep... I will

    Keep an eye on the SKGABC website skgabc.com . They are lobbying pretty hard for an alternative access site.
     
  16. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Hey it was an interesting meeting last night...

    Check out the SKGABC website for some information. http://www.skgabc.com/

    So the meeting had very little actual information. Mostly because this closure is quite new, and testing is still to occur.

    A brief summary:
    - Toquaht Campsite will be closed anywhere from 6 months to 6 years...
    - VIHA considers it safe to continue harvesting food from other areas of Barclay Sound
    - Toquaht FN hope to have an alternative kayak launch site open within 60 days (location TBA)

    So short summary: no alternative yet, no public plan yet.

    What we can do. Please consider calling up some levels of government to encourage a speedy resolution to this issue...
     
  17. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Re: Toquart Bay access to Broken Group closed

    Just to deepen the conspiracy theory, I was reading over the press release of the closing of the campsite and found this telling, bold/italic text is to highlight the salient point:

    "The former forest recreation site at Toquaht Bay was developed for public recreation after the closure of the Brynnor Mine in the late 1960s. The recreation site was Crown land until it was transferred to the Toquaht Nation as part of the Maa-nulth Treaty, which came into effect on April 1, 2011. In the treaty, the Province agreed to undertake environmental inspections and, if necessary, remediate any contamination at the site to identified land-use standards if and when the Toquaht Nation decided to further develop the site. The road leading to the boat launch, and the launch itself, remain Crown land."

    So clearly the band does have intentions for further development, and I think simply expanding or improving the campsite wouldn't prompt an environmental inspection -- it would have to be something substantially more involved for that to kick in. So ask yourself: if you were owner of a campsite that you wanted to develop into a mine, would this not be the politically expedient way to do it: close the campsite on the premise of a health risk so you're appearing to do users a favour, relocate it to inferior Location B to appear to do users a favour, then bring the mining operation on stream over time so no one really notices? The last part would be to make the mining operation integral to the site cleanup so at the end of the mine's lifespan you can say the site will be cleaner than ever so you appear to do users a favour.

    Not saying that's the case, just that the pieces fit. If the Toquart band simply announced the closure of the campsite to accommodate a mine the backlash would be huge, possibly enough to kill the project, so it makes sense there would be some brainstorming on how to mitigate bad press. And this would be the perfect solution...
     
  18. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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  19. pryaker

    pryaker Paddler

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    While skimming through the report Ken linked to I was looking for what made him post the link. Perhaps this is it?

    Combined with what JK had to say, methinks something is smelling pretty bad there...




    I've never launched there but I'm guessing the proposed berth is right where the campground is presently located?
     

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  20. pryaker

    pryaker Paddler

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    I known it's bad form to answer your own questions, but I had to...
     

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