Fly ash from Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy plant is routinely shipped to the Cache Creek Regional Landfill

Fly ash from Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy plant is routinely shipped to the Cache Creek Regional Landfill

Cache Creek mayor wants toxic incinerator ash gone

Covanta didn't flag failed tests after tardy delivery: memo

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta is demanding the removal of nearly 2,000 tonnes of hazardous waste ash that he says was illegally sent to the regional landfill his village hosts from Metro Vancouver’s Burnaby incinerator.

Fly ash from the waste-to-energy plant’s scrubbers had higher than allowed levels of leachable cadmium in July and August but was shipped to the Cache Creek landfill because incinerator operator Covanta was slow to report the test results.

“An inappropriate substance has been deposited in there,” Ranta said. “Whoever is responsible should have the material removed.”

Metro officials have said they are working with the environment ministry to determine whether the deposited fly ash must be removed.

Some of the tested samples contained more than double the concentration of cadmium B.C. allows for dumping in municipal landfills.

Ranta said the landfill isn’t licensed to accept hazardous waste and it was “simply wrong” for it to be sent there, putting landfill workers and the local environment at risk.

Cache Creek residents don’t take such matters lightly, Ranta said, noting they blockaded the Trans Canada Highway to keep millions of dead chickens from being dumped there during the avian flu outbreak of 2004.

Covanta has apologized for the reporting error, saying it was not intentional.

Fraser Valley Regional District politicians say the incident underscores why they don’t trust Metro’s drive to build a new waste-to-energy plant.

“Ultimately this is Metro Vancouver’s responsibility,” FVRD vice-chair Patricia Ross said. “They let this slip through the cracks. This does not give us any confidence whatsoever.”

She noted the incident might never have been discovered or made public had landfill operator Wastech not realized in late September that the usual test results had stopped arriving and demanded them.

When Covanta did hand over the results they did not flag the failed readings, according to a Wastech memo to Metro staff obtained by Black Press.

“The company (Covanta) made no mention of the irregularity in the test results and made no mention of concern with the hazardous waste material sent to the Cache Creek landfill,” the Wastech memo said.

It also reveals that it was Wastech’s decision, not Metro’s, to suspend all deliveries of fly ash to the landfill on Sept. 26 over safety concerns.

Metro has instead been sending incinerator ash to a Hinton, Alberta landfill, after staging some of it initially at the Annacis Island sewage treatment plant.

Subsequent loads of fly ash have tested within limits and Covanta is working to determine whether the exceedances were due to a testing error or the problems with the method used to stabilize the cadmium in the ash.

Cadmium is a carcinogenic metal found in batteries and some plastics.

The Burnaby incinerator burns 285,000 tonnes of garbage per year.

Covanta is one of the expected bidders to build a new waste-fired plant, expected to handle 370,000 tonnes per year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Morgan Creek resident has filed an official complaint against a blueberry farmer in the area. (Google image)
Morgan Creek couple files official noise complaint against blueberry farmer

Pair who recently moved to South Surrey say blasting fans keep them from sleeping

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park in March. (Contributed photo)
Green Team, South Surrey students mark Earth Day with invasive plant removal

Volunteers to be on site at White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Surrey forest trail, on Surrey Mound. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
OUR VIEW: Surrey should celebrate Earth Day every day, every week

Today – Thursday, April 22 – is Earth Day

Film crews took over Hawthorne Square Dec. 14 to shoot scenes from the TV series Flash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
UPDATE: Cloverdale ‘Flash’ episode airs

TV series ‘Flash’ transported 176th Street back to 1998

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from April 11 to 17, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 cases in Delta down from previous high

241 cases April 11 to 17, second most since BC CDC began releasing weekly city-level data

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

(File)
Two injured in rollover crash near Agassiz

One treated for serious, non-life threatening injuries

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
UPDATED: Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Most Read