Expanding the Comox Valley dump, and closing Campbell River’s, is the cheapest option for dealing with the region’s solid waste, says a waste consultant.
The Comox Strathcona Waste Management Board has been working to update its solid waste plan for nearly two years.
Three shortlisted options have emerged from the process. The board is considering either expanding both Comox Valley and Campbell River landfills, or expanding one of the two.
Maura Walker, the consultant working on the solid waste management plan, said expanding just the Campbell River landfill, which is nearing capacity, is the most expensive option at $71 per tonne.
“Expanding the Comox Valley landfill option becomes the least costly because it requires less transport than the other option,” Walker told city council at last week’s Tuesday meeting.
An expansion to the Comox Valley dump comes with a price tag of $62 per tonne while expanding both dumps would be slightly more, at $68 per tonne.
Walker said the Campbell River landfill serves 45,000 people and processes 30,000 tonnes of waste each year. The dump is rapidly running out of space and is expected to be full by this fall. A transfer station has been built to accommodate the waste, which is then trucked to the Pigeon Lake landfill in Cumberland.
The Pigeon Lake landfill serves 68,000 people and receives 40,000 tonnes of waste each year. Walker said there is approximately four to six years left until it’s expected to reach its full capacity.
Todd Baker, an engineer with consulting group AECOM, said the Campbell River dump could potentially be expanded to the north east which would allow for 40-50 more years of use.
However, a new dump would have to be built next to the existing one with a liner to treat leachate, a potentially toxic liquid.
“We know if one or both of the facilities are to expand, it will require upgrades…to be in compliance with the Ministry of Environment’s criteria,” Baker said.
Improvements would include an engineered system for leachate treatment, landfill gas management and a membrane that would cover the landfill to ensure no air or water escapes from the site.
The Solid Waste Management Board has also looked at developing waste-to-energy technologies, and moving away from traditional landfills.
Baker said vendors have provided costs for those technologies and the board has determined the cost of a small scale facility would be more expensive than expanding one or two landfills.
A small burn facility in the Comox Valley would cost $143 per tonne while a large scale facility in Campbell River would cost $88 per tonne.
But the region does not produce enough waste to run a large-scale facility, said Baker.
“To be cost effective, waste from the outside would be required,” he said. “Waste from the Lower Mainland would be required to keep costs down. We will continue exploring with outside regions such as Metro Vancouver.”
Walker said the Solid Waste Management Board is in the process of gathering community input into the solid waste plan, and, out of 14 scheduled open houses throughout the region, 11 of them are complete.
“We’re sort of at the preliminary stage as to what we’re going to do moving forward and we want public input,” Walker said. “We’re really trying to get the word out.”
Once the final plan is compiled, it has to be sent to the provincial minister of environment for approval.
The Solid Waste Management Plan is expected to be implemented between 2012 and 2022.