BC Ferries suing concrete maker Lehigh Hanson over alleged contamination of Departure Bay terminal lands

BIV's lawsuit of the week

Departure Bay terminal, Nanaimo | Shutterstock

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. is suing Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd., claiming contaminants from the company’s concrete manufacturing facility have migrated to the lands of the Departure Bay ferry terminal.

BC Ferries filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on April 1, claiming Lehigh’s property at 1961 Zorkin Road in Nanaimo, just southwest of the terminal, has been used to make concrete since the 1960s and that, since then, contaminants including benzene have been “introduced into the groundwater and soil at the Lehigh Property.”

The contamination levels, according to the claim, are high enough to deem the ferry terminal a contaminated site under the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation. Lehigh first notified the BC Transportation Finance Authority, which owns the ferry terminal lands and leases them to BC Ferries, in May 2017.

“The escape and migration of the Contaminants from the Lehigh Property to the Ferry Terminal has caused, and is continuing to cause, contamination of the groundwater and/or soil at the Ferry Terminal,” the claim states. “The Defendant knew or ought of have known that the Leghigh Property was contaminated and that the Contaminants had or were likely to migrate to adjacent properties.”

BC Ferries claims it has suffered loss and damage related to remediation costs, including legal and consultant fees and business interruption. It seeks a declaration that Lehigh is responsible for remediation of the terminal under the Environmental Managment Act, a permanent injunction restraining the company from allowing further contamination, and damages for “loss of use and enjoyment of the Ferry Terminal.”

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and Lehigh had not filed a response to the lawsuit by press time.