Despite opposition from homeowners near the Salmon Arm landfill the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board approved changes to their solid waste management plan (SWMP) that will allow them to expand the landfill at their March 29 meeting.
Since 2016, the CSRD has been considering the possibility of purchasing a 20 acre parcel of land which is located adjacent to the existing landfill at 2750 40 street NE.
The property is presently being used by a local construction firm for storage, repairs and office space, but it is also used as a demolition landfill site, under a permit from the Ministry of Environment.
“Taking over 20 acres adjacent to an existing landfill that’s already permitted to accept demolition landfill clearing debris, so already a contaminated site is the right thing to do,” said CSRD Environmental Health Services Team leader Ben Van Nostrand.
An earlier assessment of the property suggested to the board that the property would be a valuable acquisition for the regional district’s solid waste management program and so they entered into a purchase agreement at their Oct. 20 2016 board meeting, subject to approval from the Ministry of Environment and a rezoning of the property by the city of Salmon Arm. A purchase price of $750,000 was agreed upon.
The Ministry of Environment advised the CSRD that they needed to amend the SWMP to include criteria for property acquisition and landfill expansion and submit it to them for approval.
Although the CSRD’s board are convinced the property will be a valuable addition, some residents of properties near the landfill are not sold on the idea.
Howard and Linda Williamson, who live near the landfill, on 40th Street SE, gave a presentation to the board outlining their opposition to the site. Several of the Williamsons’ neighbours sat in the gallery of the CSRD boardroom in support.
Quoting from the Ministry of Environment’s 2016 Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste, the Williamsons noted landfills are not supposed to be located with 500 metres of a residence. They presented a map with 17 residences marked within 500 metres of the proposed landfill expansion. They say the nearest residence is 71.5 metres from the property boundary.
The Williamsons also expressed concerns with health issues and toxic effects.In their report to the board, they quoted from the Ministry of Environments 2016 Landfill Gas Management Facilities Guidelines:
“Additionally, accumulation of LFG in enclosed or low-lying areas on or near landfills may cause displacement of air, thereby creating an oxygen-deficient atmosphere. This oxygen deficiency may be severe enough to pose a suffocation hazard to persons in the area,” Howard said.
The same paragraph of the design guidelines says health and toxic effects related to the landfill gas are centralized to the landfill site and mostly a concern for landfill workers and that most health effects due to landfill gas are restricted to the landfill site and can be addressed utilizing proper safety precautions.
Van Nostrand said the landfill employs a state of the art landfill gas collection system.
“Historically there were landfill gas showing up at the property boundaries. that doesn’t happen anymore because we are drawing the gas in and processing it and actually selling it to Fortis BC,” he said.
Citing several medical sources Howard spoke of an increased risk for various types of cancer, birth defects more common in babies born to mothers who live near landfills. Children living near waste sites are hospitalized more frequently with acute respiratory infections.
“These possible health and safety issues are surely a major part of the reasoning behind a 500 metre buffer zone from residences. There are 17 residences within 500 metres, each one with a family living in them,” he said.
Although the property being considered for purchase by the CSRD has been used as a landfill before, the Williamsons expressed concern that putrescibles, which are any material that will decay, will be allowed on the site where only building materials were allowed before.
Van Nostrand said although the property will be incorporated into the landfill site, that doesn’t necessarily mean the property will be immediately used for waste disposal. He noted the landfill will not reach capacity on its current footprint until at least 2040 if efforts to reduce tonneage going into it through recycling and other efforts continue to succeed.
Until it is one day needed as an expansion of the landfill itself, Van Nostrand said the subject property could be a potential new entrance to the landfill, a space for the contractor that runs the landfill to maintain and repair their equipment or other uses for the CSRD.