The extension at the Cache Creek landfill might be open by the end of the year, if the weather cooperates. Photo by Wendy Coomber.

The extension at the Cache Creek landfill might be open by the end of the year, if the weather cooperates. Photo by Wendy Coomber.

Cache Creek landfill extension appeal is dismissed

The decision clears the way for liner installation to start in the next few weeks.

The appeal that was launched earlier this year regarding the issuing of an operational certificate for the construction of the landfill extension at the Cache Creek landfill has been dismissed; and Russ Black, president of Belkorp Environmental Services (the parent company of Wastech, which operates the landfill), says he is very happy with that outcome.

The “Environmental Management Act Appeal—Culos v. December 15, 2016 decision of A.J. Downie for the Director, Environmental Management Act, to issue Operational Certificate 107189 to the Village of Cache Creek and Belkorp Environmental Services Inc. for the Cache Creek Landfill Extension [2017-EMA-001]” was filed by Ermes Culos, who learned on August 17 that the appeal had been dismissed by the Environmental Appeal Board.

“The decision went against me, and so be it,” he says. “I appealed the Ministry’s decision to grant an operational certificate to the Cache Creek landfill extension on two related issues.

“The first issue was that according to all relevant agencies (the Environmental Assessment Office, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, former Health Minister Terry Lake himself), the landfill extension is simply an extension of the Cache Creek Landfill, as the name in fact implies. Most local residents would readily agree with this designation of the extension. This was a key argument in my appeal.

“Belkorp/Wastech disagreed, claiming that the extension is no extension at all but a separate facility. The Ministry agreed with Belkorp/Wastech; as it always has. The Appeal Board too agreed with Belkorp/Wastech and the Ministry, and it has therefore ruled against me on this issue.

“The second issue is that since last summer the Ministry, Wastech, and Metro Vancouver have been (and still are) involved in a squabble over who should pay the many millions of dollars in remediation costs needed to staunch or contain the noxious chemicals that are, in increasing quantities, leaching out of the Cache Creek landfill and threatening the Bonaparte River.

“This, too, was part of my appeal: that the Ministry should not go thumbs up on the expansion of a facility that is having this sort of problem. But, having decided that the extension is separate from the existing landfill, the Appeal Board felt it could give no weight to this second part of my appeal.

“The result is that my appeal is quashed and, absolved of all stain, the operators of a facility that—intentionally or not—has created the problems just mentioned can carry on, and on, as if nothing ever happened.”

Black says that “The Cache Creek landfill extension has been in development for more than a decade. The record shows that we have been very careful, responsive, and scientific in pursuing that objective. We’ll continue to take precautions, and a preventative approach.”

Black says that the site of the landfill extension—which will have a double composite liner—has been under construction for two years, and that final earthworks prior to the installation of the liner are now being done.

“We’re still working hard to get the liner in before the winter period,” he says, adding that the wildfire in the area was a setback because of evacuations, and highway closures that meant necessary equipment could not get to the site.

“We’re chasing the good weather,” he says. “We lost three weeks on the earth moving. If the weather holds, we can be up and running by the end of the year. If not, then it will be June or July next year.” The plan is to start installing the liner in three to four weeks.