Fly ash from Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy plant is routinely shipped to the Cache Creek Regional Landfill

Cache Creek mayor wants toxic incinerator ash gone

Covanta didn't flag failed tests after tardy delivery: memo

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta is demanding the removal of nearly 2,000 tonnes of hazardous waste ash that he says was illegally sent to the regional landfill his village hosts from Metro Vancouver’s Burnaby incinerator.

Fly ash from the waste-to-energy plant’s scrubbers had higher than allowed levels of leachable cadmium in July and August but was shipped to the Cache Creek landfill because incinerator operator Covanta was slow to report the test results.

“An inappropriate substance has been deposited in there,” Ranta said. “Whoever is responsible should have the material removed.”

Metro officials have said they are working with the environment ministry to determine whether the deposited fly ash must be removed.

Some of the tested samples contained more than double the concentration of cadmium B.C. allows for dumping in municipal landfills.

Ranta said the landfill isn’t licensed to accept hazardous waste and it was “simply wrong” for it to be sent there, putting landfill workers and the local environment at risk.

Cache Creek residents don’t take such matters lightly, Ranta said, noting they blockaded the Trans Canada Highway to keep millions of dead chickens from being dumped there during the avian flu outbreak of 2004.

Covanta has apologized for the reporting error, saying it was not intentional.

Fraser Valley Regional District politicians say the incident underscores why they don’t trust Metro’s drive to build a new waste-to-energy plant.

“Ultimately this is Metro Vancouver’s responsibility,” FVRD vice-chair Patricia Ross said. “They let this slip through the cracks. This does not give us any confidence whatsoever.”

She noted the incident might never have been discovered or made public had landfill operator Wastech not realized in late September that the usual test results had stopped arriving and demanded them.

When Covanta did hand over the results they did not flag the failed readings, according to a Wastech memo to Metro staff obtained by Black Press.

“The company (Covanta) made no mention of the irregularity in the test results and made no mention of concern with the hazardous waste material sent to the Cache Creek landfill,” the Wastech memo said.

It also reveals that it was Wastech’s decision, not Metro’s, to suspend all deliveries of fly ash to the landfill on Sept. 26 over safety concerns.

Metro has instead been sending incinerator ash to a Hinton, Alberta landfill, after staging some of it initially at the Annacis Island sewage treatment plant.

Subsequent loads of fly ash have tested within limits and Covanta is working to determine whether the exceedances were due to a testing error or the problems with the method used to stabilize the cadmium in the ash.

Cadmium is a carcinogenic metal found in batteries and some plastics.

The Burnaby incinerator burns 285,000 tonnes of garbage per year.

Covanta is one of the expected bidders to build a new waste-fired plant, expected to handle 370,000 tonnes per year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ELECTION: Ryan Warawa to run for BC Conservative Party in Langley East

Son of late MP Mark Warawa is former president of provincial party

ELECTION: Langley Township councillor Eric Woodward will run for the BC NDP in Langley East

Will challenge another current Township councillor for the job

Tenor from Langley-based Trinity Western University joins Vancouver Chamber Choir

Rob Workman feels ‘blessed by these opportunities’

ELECTION: Wiens named Green candidate for Langley East

Said party offers “hopeful” alternative to NDP and Liberals

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read