The Campbell River Waste Management Centre on Argonaut Road could begin accepting and storing asbestos after it was granted approval to do so by the province recently.

‘Great concern’ among council as province grants Campbell River landfill authority to handle asbestos

Province grants approval for the dump to accept and store asbestos-containing materials

The Campbell River landfill has been granted approval by the province to accept asbestos in a move that some Campbell River councillors say is of “great concern.”

The province’s ministry of environment recently authorized the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Service to move forward with a plan to store and dispose of waste asbestos at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre on Argonaut Road.

At last week’s council meeting, Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he was shocked to see the approval letter from the province with little consideration given to the City of Campbell River.

“I was quite taken aback by the last Solid Waste Management board meeting to find out that the province had granted a hazardous waste certificate to our site for the disposal of asbestos without any reference to the city or to staff at city hall,” Cornfield said. “Given the sensitivity of our waste disposal facilities, new and proposed, when it comes to hazardous material I think that this is one of the things that I thought was really important to bring to everyone’s attention.”

Mayor Andy Adams thanked Cornfield for bringing the item up, adding that “I know there is great concern.”

The Comox Strathcona Waste Management board, which is made up of both Strathcona Regional District and Comox Valley Regional District directors, voted at a board meeting last Sept. 15 to move towards accepting asbestos-containing materials at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre. The motion was put forward by Cortes Director Noba Anderson. The only recorded vote in opposition was Area D Director Brenda Leigh.

At a subsequent solid waste board meeting, on April 20, Cornfield put forward a motion – which was seconded by Campbell River Coun. Colleen Evans – that implementation of the hazardous waste asbestos program be deferred until referral and discussion takes place with the City of Campbell River regarding the proposed program, and that staff report back to the June board meeting regarding accepting asbestos at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre.

At Campbell River’s May 8 city council meeting, council received a letter from James Mathers, senior manager of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Service, asking for comments and feedback by May 5. Cornfield noted that timeline was “unusually quick” as the letter wasn’t received by council until three days after the requested deadline for comment.

Despite missing the short deadline, council directed Campbell River city staff to provide feedback and comments to the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Service.

That feedback is expected to be received by the waste management board at its June 8 meeting.

The waste management service has been floating the idea of a local solution for asbestos waste since March of last year when a member of the public made a presentation to its board about the challenges related to the disposal of asbestos-contaminated building materials.

Asbestos and asbestos-containing material are currently not accepted at either the Comox Valley landfill or the Campbell River landfill. Residents and commercial haulers needing to dispose of those materials are directed to the Victoria Hartland landfill – the only facility where out-of-region material is currently being accepted.

So the board directed waste management staff to look into options closer to home. What they came back with at a board meeting last September was three different options – disposal at the Campbell River landfill, transporting to and landfilling at the Victoria Hartland landfill, or transporting to and landfilling at the Nanaimo regional landfill.

The Campbell River landfill disposal option was found to the most economical at $250-$550/tonne, while disposal at the Nanaimo regional landfill was found to be the most expensive at $890/tonne, according to the report from waste management staff.

The report also revealed that in 2015, between 125-175 tonnes of asbestos and asbestos-containing material (ACM) from the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Service area was received at the Victoria Hartland landfill.

“Based on this data, and information provided from experienced contractors, staff estimate that one covered 20-yard bin with weatherproof seals would be sufficient to provide a short-term storage site for asbestos and ACM from the CSWM (Comox Strathcona Waste Management) service area (assuming regular emptying of the bin and disposal of the material),” states the report. “The approximate capital cost associated with purchasing and implementing this type of bin would be $15,700.”

The rationale for using Campbell River’s landfill rather than the Comox Valley’s is that contractors at the Campbell River site have the expertise to deal with asbestos, according to Lisa Butler, engineering analyst for the waste management service.

“The contractors who are responsible for waste handling and landfilling at the CRWMC (Campbell River Waste Management Centre) have training with asbestos awareness and safety and have standard operating procedures in place for the handling and disposal of this material,” Butler wrote in her report to the waste service board. “With this disposal option, the asbestos and ACM storage bin could be transported to the specified asbestos disposal area of the landfill with minimal handling on an as-needed basis. All material would need to be landfilled according to Part 6 of the Hazardous Waste Regulation.

”At the current time, there is approximately five and a half years of remaining airspace in the CRWMC landfill,” Butler added. “Due to the fill plan, there is a portion of the existing airspace that is separated from the active face of the landfill, and would provide an isolated asbestos and ACM disposal area.”

The province’s approval allows for the disposal of a maximum of 240,000 kilograms per year of hazardous waste asbestos in designated disposal sites at the Campbell River landfill. With that, the province has laid out a list of seven requirements that must be met, including that asbestos loads must be inspected, that bagged asbestos must not be compacted or caused to break open, that the perimeter and elevations of asbestos dispoal locations within the landfill must be surveyed and clearly marked on site plans, and that warning signs indicating a hazardous waste asbestos hazard must be displayed at the entrance to the active asbestos disposal area and at intervals of 25 metres or less along the perimeter of the active asbestos disposal area.