Landfill warning letter issued

In the spring of 2017, the Ministry of Environment (MoE) Protection Division staff conducted an inspection on the Golden Landfill and determined it is out of compliance with its operational certificate in a number of areas.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) was given a warning letter in July 2018 that listed the compliance verification information. The CSRD has since returned a letter to the ministry detailing corrective actions to be taken and preventative measures it will address at the Golden Landfill.

At a similar time when the inspection began, the CSRD was taking immediate action to respond to flash flooding events, which caused contaminated waters to leave the Golden Landfill boundary. Since the flooding, the CSRD has invested in on site control measures to improve surface water management, and has hired a qualified professional to conduct soil sampling, and is in the process of providing remediation plans.

“The CSRD has sent the letter off to the Province. It summarizes the actions taken since the incident,” said CSRD environmental health services team leader Ben Van Nostrand.

According to the CSRD letter, staff attempted to contact MoE on several occasions to provide information and seek input in the development plan to address a groundwater assessment and other work, but did not receive input from MoE, which lead the CSRD to proceed with a plan to install new groundwater monitoring wells to assess the flow and direction of groundwater. The wells were installed in June.

After MoE sent the warning letter to the CSRD, they required notification in writing within 30 days to advise the corrective measures that would be taken to remedy the compliance violations. The corrective measures will be reviewed by a protection division officer as part of the landfill’s next inspection.

“We need to be compliant,” said CSRD Area A director Karen Cathcart. “There needs to be changes, and I think the CSRD staff are on it.”

A number of compliance requirements were found to be “out,” and MoE requires that action be taken. In addition to a handful of design and performance requirements, officers observed the evidence of leachate surfacing from the landfill property, and stated that the CSRD did not provide notification to the ministry’s regional office to confirm leachate discharges or remedial action. The CSRD has stated it will provide notification of any future emergencies.

Also in the design and performance requirements, MoE states that the landfill must be operated in a manner that will not become a public nuisance or become a significant threat to public safety with respect to landfill gas. The inspection report states that the landfill is operating in a manner that does not control vectors or litter, and the landfill operator confirmed wildlife attraction to the site in 2017. Ravens and birds were observed around the active face of the landfill.

The CSRD has reviewed cover and compaction requirements at the landfill site, and has taken measures to ensure daily cover is done with metal plates or otherwise covered with soil to reduce the vectors and litter. The CSRD has provided the operator with active face litter fencing, and is in the process of installing perimeter litter fencing to reduce the amount of litter that makes its way offsite. In 2018, th Conservation Officer Service in Golden was contacted about options for bird and deer culls, but it was not supported by MoE.

The CSRD is required to submit an annual report each year, and a five year report every five years. The CSRD made changes to the format of the annual report, and up until receiving the warning letter, states the CSRD has not received any input, comment, or direction on the annual reports submitted between 2013 and 2018. The CSRD assumed the format and way the information was being presented to the MoE was satisfactory, but MoE states that the annual reports must include executive summaries, with the CSRD will incorporate in the future.

Due to the ongoing site investigation in 2017 and 2018, the CSRD will submit a five-year report to the ministry director in 2019.

“The CSRD is committed to ensure similar non-compliances are prevented in the suture and welcomes a follow up inspection,” the CSRD stated at the end of the letter to MoE.

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