Peter Blazkow, a retired CPA who worked for the provincial government, spent weeks mixing an enzyme solution with water to remediate the oil contaminated soil on his property. The Blazkows are at a standstill, having run out of money and will power to deal with thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Out of money, oil spill surprise drains couple’s retirement plan

At $2,000 per bucket, couple using enzyme remediation

The Saanich couple who discovered a historic oil spill on their Goward Road property in 2016 have since run out of money to deal with it and are awaiting the 2019 court date for the lawsuit they’ve filed against the former owners.

The hope for Cathy and Peter Blazkow is they will win back much of the money they’ve spent, so they can continue remediating the soil. Until then the Blazkows are $300,000 deep into remediation costs to deal with about 800 tonnes of contaminated soil which they uncovered on the property. And now they’re out of money, the soil remains, and the garage they were trying to build when they discovered the oil is nothing but a foundation.

“We spent all of our money, we had to sell our family house from Gordon Head [which we were renting out], I also had an inheritance from my aunt but that money is now gone,” Cathy said.

See: Historic oil spill discovered on Goward Road property

What they thought was going to be their pristine retirement property in the rich forests of the Prospect Lake area has been nothing of the sort.

The couple bought the five-acre property with a house, barn, garage, workshop, horse paddock and riding ring at 240 Goward Rd. in 2012. Their daughter’s family, with the Blazkows’ granddaughter, moved into the home too. The plan was to replace the workshop with a two-storey garage that had an upstairs office. That was 2015. Even after the workshop was initially razed there was no sign of contamination.

It wasn’t until the builders dug down to install the foundation for the new garage that they discovered the contaminated soil. An environmental company was brought in and confirmed the presence of oil, including diesel and industrial strength cleaning agents. The excavated soil is too contaminated to ship anywhere and so, it sits in three large mounds on top of tarps.

See: Saanich family launches lawsuit over contaminated soil

“It’s lucky we found it,” Peter said. “Where it was, it was sitting in a bowl of bedrock but over time the contaminants would start leeching into the water table.”

The Blazkows are also lucky their own well water was uphill from the contamination. After paying nearly $200,000 for the initial excavation the couple found a company that specializes in remediating oil contamination on site, meaning the soil can stay put. That process is underway and they still owe the remediation company $20,000 and are facing at least $50,000 more to finish the process of using enzymes that metabolize the hydrocarbons.

“They got us started on the enzyme process, it actually breaks down the contaminants,” Cathy said.

The couple took on the process themselves, buying huge drums, pumps and driplines, as well as a $2,000 shovel for the front of their daughter’s Bobcat to level out the mounds of dirt, which now have drip lines laid across them in formation. Each day Peter would fill a pair industrial-sized drums with a mix of the enzymes and nitrates. It would take a few hours for the solution to mix and populate and then he’d turn on the pump and let it drip onto the mound of dirt. But a bucket of enzymes only lasts so long, and at $2,000 per bucket, they’ve stopped buying them. However, the plan is to start again once they can afford it.

Soon after discovering the oil Cathy learned her neighbours had made complaints about an industrial use of the property, including trucks with oil tanks coming and going. Saanich GIS photos also showed evidence of the tanks on the property.

A Dec. 20, 2016 lawsuit names defendants Helen West, Rick Hughes and Victoria Tank Service Ltd.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria Lavender owner set to retire

Sidney storefront to remain open, future of goat yoga undecided

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of flight

97-year old will fly a plane for the first time

Esquimalt man faces four charges of sexual assault, investigators suspect more victims

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Heat and smoke raises health risks

Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror Health risks arising from heat and… Continue reading

13-year-old Langford boy missing

West Shore RCMP say Alex Meickle was likely headed to Tofino

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Most Read