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Plan extends life of landfill

A transfer station will replace the city dump for one year starting this fall when the landfill is expected to be full, the region’s Solid Waste Management Board decided Monday.

While trash will still be taken to the dump, instead of the waste remaining in the landfill, it will be transferred to the Pigeon Lake Landfill in the Comox Valley.

Although the Campbell River landfill will eventually be permanently shut down, a construction project at the landfill, slated for late fall or early winter, will extend the landfill’s lifespan another five years.

“The last piece of the puzzle is the transfer of waste while preparing the landfill to receive more waste,” said Tom Boatman, manager of solid waste with the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management. “We’ll be taking all the waste to Cumberland for about one year, starting later this year.”

The district plans to construct a membrane that will cover the landfill to ensure no air or water can escape from the site in any direction.

A ditch will also be dug around the landfill to capture all the water and the lower slopes will be closed to allow more air space in the landfill, adding years onto it.

The construction project will not only extend the life of the dump, but also address a 38-year-old deficiency at the landfill.

Built without a system to collect and treat leachate, a potentially toxic liquid, the landfill is not in compliance with BC Landfill Criteria and samples from 14 area wells indicate the landfill is in violation of clean drinking water standards, according to the Strathcona Regional District.

“Right now, trash is basically just put into an old hole in the ground, with no liner to contain liquid that comes into contact with trash,” said Boatman.

He said test results show that although the landfill has affected some residents’ water, it is not at the point where it is harmful to human health. However, the district is monitoring the situation and consultants are coming in next week to run more tests to determine if there is a problem and if so, how to address it, said Boatman.

For more than a year, the Solid Waste Management Board has been looking at what to do long-term with a nearly-full Campbell River landfill, that does not meet Ministry of Environment standards.

It is considering expanding the landfill, which actually means creating a brand-new dump beside the old one.

“Expanding would mean that it would be an engineered landfill, totally lined,” said Boatman. “It would be totally self-contained, with 80 per cent less impact on greenhouse gas emissions (than the existing landfill).”

He said it could be built right up against the current landfill.

Expanding the dump is one of seven options the Solid Waste Management Board is looking at for dealing with the region’s waste as it works to update the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Plan.

Boatman said the plan is overdue by a few years because the Ministry of Environment requires so many different components to be completed but the board has no definite timeline for when the plan will be complete.

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