Landfill neighbour property owner Andrea Weissenborn and Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) environmental health services team leader Ben Van Nostrand presented to the CSRD Local Advisory Committee (LAC) regarding the Golden Landfill on June 25.
“My main goal is to make sure people understand what is going on at the landfill,” Weissenborn said.
The Weissenborn family has struggled with debris from the landfill coming onto their property for years, and has concerns about groundwater quality, animal habitats, and more. During her presentation, Weissenborn showed the LAC video and photo imagery of ravens surrounding the landfill, a raptor that died in the netting, a dozen deer searching for food in the landfill, carcasses of deer nearby, and plastic found in owl pellets.
As long as 15 years ago, the Weissenborn family has been trying to get a complete cleanup done to remove litter from her property. Previously, the CSRD cleaned up the litter, but the Weissenborns decided not to allow the CSRD to enter onto their property this year. Instead, they hired a contractor to remove the litter, and it was discovered under the surface in layers.
“I thought it should be good enough to clean up the litter on the surface, but I began to notice it is layer upon layer,” Weissenborn said.
Van Nostrand noted that the Weissenborn family had previously told the CSRD that they did not want the landscape disturbed while cleaning was done, which is why the CSRD did not clean more than surface litter.
One of the comments from the contractors cleaning the Weissenborn property was that a lot of the garbage they cleaned was also recyclable.
“It really opened my eyes to how much litter there was, and it wasn’t just visible, it was in the ground,” Weissenborn said.
This year, the CSRD installed net fencing along that side of the landfill, which has been working so far. The CSRD plans to install the fencing around the remaining sides of the perimeter as well.
Alongside the surface concerns, Weissenborn is worried about what is getting into the groundwater. With two new wells drilled in the past year, levels of nitrate, chlorite, and toluene have been discovered. Toluene is a hydrocarbon found in contaminated soils.
“Last summer, this landfill accepted gasoline contaminated soil from Glacier Park Lodge,” she added.
The landfill in Golden is one of the few in the CSRD that accepts contaminated soil. It is then used as land fill and cover.
“Some of these projects need a place to take that material to. In part, we are providing a solution to that waste management issue,” Van Nostrand said.
On top of many issues pointed out by the Ministry of Environment in their warning letter to the Golden Landfill and by the Weissenborn family, the landfill face sits too close to the perimeter. The landfill plan states it must be 50 metres from the edge of the property, but it is only 20 metres from the Weissenborn property.
“It made me understand that basically our land is an extension of the landfill, whether we say so or not,” Weissenborn said. “It’s a pretty emotional topic as I’ve been working on it for a long time.”