A site view shows operations at Upland Excavating which is proposing to establish a soil remediation facility on its property.

City seeking more information on proposed landfill

The city has a lengthy list of questions and concerns it wants answered by Upland Excavating about a proposed soil remediation facility that some residents are concerned will threaten the city’s drinking water.

City staff have outlined 26 different areas of concern in a letter to Upland Excavating that question Upland’s plans for snow management, control of invasive plants and noxious weeds, fire protection, wildlife management when it comes to birds using leachate ponds, and other concerns.

The letter was drafted by Terri Martin, the city’s environmental coordinator, and Nathalie Viau, the city’s water supervisor.

The pair state that they recognize the value in Upland’s proposal to expand its operations and accept non-hazardous contaminated soil at its existing landfill but at the same time are doing their due diligence to ensure citizens are not being put at risk.

“The City of Campbell River recognizes that there is a need for a local solution for the disposal of contaminated soil and asbestos, as opposed to having the materials hauled to other communities and watersheds,” Martin and Viau write. “At the same time, any proposed facility has the potential to have environmental impacts of concern and the city must feel confident that every precaution has been considered to avoid impacts to the community’s drinking watershed as well as the Quinsam River, Cold Creek and the environment.”

Upland has submitted a waste discharge application to the Ministry of Environment for an Operational Certificate to accommodate a landfill on Upland-owned lands at 7295 Gold River Highway that would treat and deposit up to 500,000 cubic metres of non-hazardous solid waste, such as construction, demolition and land-clearing materials, including asbestos.

Members of the Campbell River Environmental Committee (CREC) are concerned about the proposed landfill’s proximity to Rico Lake and McIvor Lake, which is connected to the city’s drinking water system.

Leona Adams, a member of the Environmental Committee, has said the proposed waste landfill site straddles a large aquifer, which is hydraulically connected with Rico and McIvor lakes.

The city is seeking clarification from Upland on conflicting reports on whether or not Rico Lake drains to McIvor Lake – part of the city’s drinking watershed – as a hydrology report prepared for Upland sates that “the eastern extent of Rico Lake encroaches onto the site.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield said at Monday night’s council meeting that he’s observed that Rico Lake is “much higher” than McIvor and that “water is flowing from Rico to McIvor which is our watershed.”

Cornfield said he’s concerned that if Rico Lake is lower than the Upland property, there may be the “potential for the water to move the leachate.”

Terry Stuart of Upland said in a letter to the Mirror that safety components will be built in to the system so there is no threat.

“Our design will entail a completely double lined containment, no material can spill outside or be deposited outside of the liner, water cannot spill out or drain off onto unlined ground and cannot flow uphill into McIvor or Rico Lake,” Stuart wrote. “The water treatment facility, as well, cannot overflow onto the ground.”

Greg Ferraro, engineer for the project with GHD Consulting, told city council March 21 that groundwater monitoring locations are located throughout the site and upgradient surface water quality will be monitored at both McIvor and Rico lakes. Ferraro added that water quality will meet the Ministry of Environment standards and will be monitored quarterly for verification.

Brian Fagan of Upland Excavating assured council that leachate will be treated in batches to ensure nothing gets by.

“Our forecast is for a seven-day (treatment schedule),” Fagan said. “Each batch will be treated and it will ensure that it doesn’t exceed the standards prior to discharge. The first level of treatment is the aeration which it does not get discharged to the next point in the system until such time that it has met the criteria.”

Still, Martin and Viau are asking Upland to submit annual operations and monitoring reports to the city. They also are urging Upland to conduct periodic surface water sampling at Rico and McIvor lakes.

They added that Upland will likely need to acquire a rezoning from the city in order to permit such a use on its property.

The rezoning would trigger a permit process that requires  an Environmental Impact Assessment which assesses the risks and evaluates the effects of the project.