The lawyer representing owners of the South Surrey galvanizing plant that is the subject of an ongoing Environmental Appeal Board hearing cautioned one witness this week against advancing “a proposition and a conspiracy theory that you have no basis of.”
Nicholas Hughes made the statement Wednesday morning, during cross-examination of Frank Mueggenburg, who is among around a dozen appellants hoping their evidence will lead to the cancellation of an air-quality permit that was issued to Ebco Metal Finishing LP. by Metro Vancouver for the discharge of emissions at the 18699 25 Ave. plant.
During earlier questioning by a fellow appellant, Mueggenburg had referenced talk heard during community meetings regarding the application, of a connection between a former City of Surrey manager and Ebco – a connection that suggested Ebco had been guided to navigate the city’s application process in such a way as to keep the air-quality component of the project out of the public eye.
Noting the information was hearsay, Mueggenburg said he’d heard that “somebody… got this through.”
Hughes described the comments as “serious allegations that Ebco is somehow involved in fraudulent activity.”
“You’re saying that there was some undue dealings between the city and our client? Today, in front of the press… there’s this allegation…”
Hughes noted he was drawing attention to the comments to ensure any media coverage of them included their correction.
Points he raised to that end included that the former manager cited left the city’s employ years ahead of Ebco’s application, and that an Ebco website, which now lists that individual as its vice-president is not the same Ebco company that owns the galvanizing plant.
While Mueggenburg – who earlier Wednesday spoke of the death of a foal on his property, which is located south of the galvanizing plant – confirmed he had not presented any evidence that would support a “conspiracy,” he said that a fellow appellant who has yet to testify may be better able to answer Hughes’ questions.
The hearing, underway at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel, is scheduled to continue through April 30.
The air-quality permit in question was issued a year ago, effective until Feb. 28, 2033. In opening statements last week, the EAB panel heard that the 25 Avenue site was zoned for “light impact industry,” and that the project was initially proposed as a warehouse. Residents later learned that annual emissions were estimated at six tonnes – an amount Metro Vancouver officials, in an interview at that time, told Peace Arch News was “not a particularly large amount.”