An Abbotsford woman believes she may have seen some large-scale illegal dumping into Abbotsford’s storm sewer system.
On Sunday night, at about midnight, Sandra Nieman heard the sound of equipment running outside her townhome on Bourquin Crescent, near Ware Street.
She went outside to see a tanker truck, off-white in colour, with the tank raised on one end for dumping, and a hose running into the storm drain.
“It was the middle of the night, the truck was unmarked – it was suspicious,” she said.
There was an operator who appeared to be in his 20s running the equipment, and two other men who looked to be middle-aged who were also on site.
“I hope it wasn’t something toxic,” said Nieman, “but the cloak and dagger way they were doing it…”
John Gordon, the City of Abbotsford’s general manager of engineering, said it was not a city vehicle, the scenario does sound suspicious, and he dispatched city workers to investigate. They tested for toxic substances in the drain, and in Ravine Park which it eventually drains into, but found nothing. However, with the amount of rain recently, they expected anything dumped would have already flushed through the system.
Gordon said some city drains have minimal treatment that captures oils, but most flow directly into fish-bearing streams.
“If there’s a toxic substance we can’t get it out,” he said.
The city benefits from public tips for enforcement of illegal dumping.
Gordon said the city normally has its pumper trucks out to clean catch basins in the spring, removing sand that was put down on icy roads.
He said illegal dumping is an enforcement issue for the Ministry of Environment. However, anyone who suspects they see illegal dumping into a storm drain should phone city workers during the day, or police during the evening.
“They’ve got the ability to go out and at least document what happened,” he said.
The public is asked to get a licence plate number if possible, but advised not to confront anyone suspected of illegal dumping.