(Gravel) Dust Gets In Your Eyes

By February 10, 2014Guest Columns, Hot Topic

By Wendy Bales. The attached photos from Lake Errock are from Shelly, Lea and Liz, who all said that I could share their emails. There is a video, but it is too big to easily forward.

For all those who may doubt the health effects of having too many gravel pits so close to a community, the attached pictures were taken on what was a sunny day for other areas, last week. I was in Richmond where it was relatively clear.

The FVRD has about 75 years’ worth of gravel for regional needs from already permitted gravel pits. Under the APP there will be more. A main problem in the Mines Act is that there is no limit put on how much exposed land there can be in one area at one time. There are no limits to how close they can be put to communities. To make it worse it can be quite a few years before the Ministry of Mines requires that pits do reclamation of mines. Often on a windy day while driving home from work I can see the plums of dust rising above Sumas mountain. I have also been driving towards Deroche to see a wall of grey dust on an otherwise sunny day on a few occasions.

The cumulative impacts to health for humans, habitat and water, as well as road safety can be quite severe for some communities

Residents Speak Out

The following comments were sent by residents regarding the gravel dust at Lake Errock:

  • “There is a large dust storm happening down at the lake. At time it’s so thick you can barely see across the lake. The open pit is being blown at by the wind and when I go for a walk I have sand whipped at my face.”


  • “Have you received any calls or emails regarding all the dust and brown air that we’ve been living with during these high winds for the last couple of weeks? I assuming that due to the lack of dampness (rain) that the gravel pit is the cause. My black Miata is now a light shade of brown, the ditch at the property line is a sludge of dust. Again today the smog is like being in Los Angles. Is there any way we can confirm the gravel pit is the culprit and if so, can we make them water down the area? This cannot be good for our lungs.”


  • “The dust on Deroche Mountain is absolutely disgusting. I can barely see Deroche Mtn. and Harrison Hill is also very cloudy. It looks like smoke. You would think with winds of up to 60 kph the view would be absolutely clear. BUT it is not. You can see the dust in the air. I’ve taken some pics and will forward them soon. Between Debench and Sonora and Sumas Mtn and maybe up near Chehalis it’s very cloudy. Usually I can see every branch on the mountains but can barely even see the mountain let alone branches on trees. Something needs to be done about this. Is it possible to get that woman who was studying the area to come back and see for herself or even the two of you so you can see what I am referring to. It’s bad. I look to the west (worst) north, east and south and all I see is smokey looking sky. This really saddens me … You wonder why we are fighting any expansions. It will only get worse … Don’t know what else to say”


  • “I live at Lake Errock and for the past several days (beginning of Feb. 2014), I have been negatively affected by large amounts of dust blowing on my land. It has been a windy period of winter and the dust from the aggregate pit is ripping through the area. You can see it as a large golden haze over the lake. The dust is swirling up in large clouds and tufts, easily visible in front of Harrison Hill. For the past several mornings, on my walk to my car in my driveway, my face is pelted with what feels like a gritty sand. It has gotten in my eyes and mouth, and I have inhaled some. When the wind picks up feels like a sandstorm and it is unpleasant. This morning I have a cough with no other cold/flu-like symptoms.”


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Wendy BalesWendy Bales is Director for Area C of the Fraser Valley regional District.

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