Fly ash “likely” not hazardous – review

MOE's commissioned review of last year's fly ash in the landfill deemed hazardous now "not likely".

A review commissioned by the Ministry of Environment concluded that the 35,000 tonnes of fly ash deposited in the Cache Creek Landfill in July/August 2013 is likely not leachable and therefore not hazardous.

The Burnaby WTE Facility Fly Ash Review by Stantec Consulting for Hayes Consulting and the Ministry, was finalized on Feb. 5 and released last week. Its results are based on review of four different reports already written on the subject, plus interviews with various people involved. No new samples were collected or analyzed, and the 700 samples collected from the landfill and analyzed by Golder and Associates for a study commissioned by Wastech were discounted for what was said to be improper testing procedures.

The focus of the review is on the testing procedures. It concludes that all testing done for fly ash produced by the Burnaby WTE incinerator in July and August, 2013 were unreliable, and that quality control and quality assurance protocols at the incinerator “were not sufficiently developed.”

“To me, the report is a little bit disappointing,” said Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta.

The review does not conclude one way or the other that the fly ash was hazardous or safe, and it’s been studied now by five different engineering companies “who’ve received no doubt hundreds of thousands of dollars for their work,” said Ranta.

The latest review suggests that more analysis needs to be done to determine whether lime  should to be mixed in with the fly ash before monofil is closed, he said, and talks about “discretionary supplemental analysis.”

Fly ash was placed in the monofil at the landfill, which is lined and separate from the rest of the waste disposal areas, since 2000. Before that, it was co-mingled with the rest of the garbage.

“We could be sitting on a ticking time bomb but we don’t know,” said Ranta. “The report has so many holes in it you could drive a garbage truck through it.”

The fly ash test results last July/August triggered a Letter of Non-Compliance from the Ministry to the landfill operators, Wastech and the Village of Cache Creek, because they had allowed hazardous waste to be deposited in the landfill.

The Ministry is conducting public meetings to present the review’s findings in Cache Creek on Apr. 7 at 7:30 in the Community Hall, and in  Ashcroft on Apr. 8 at 7 pm in the Community Hall. Officials will go over results of the review  and answer questions from the public.

“One thing I will ask,” said Ranta, “is, if we are in non-compliance, are you satisfied enough with this report to withdraw that non-compliance?”

He said he will also ask whether the Ministry pay to do the “supplemental discretionary analysis” suggested in the report?

Ranta wondered how they were supposed to treat the co-mingled fly ash, suggesting that  ground water collection wells might have to be installed to intercept any contaminated moisture and pump it back into the landfill to evaporate.

Collections wells are expensive, he said, and paying for them out of the $14 million post closure fund will reduce the amount left to the point where it may jeopardize the ability to care for the site in perpetuity.

The review can be found at www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/regions/thompson/reports/docs/rpt_master_bcmoe_flyash_tasks123_20140205.pdf or by visiting the Ministy of Environment’s site at www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/regions/thompson/reports/burnaby-wte-facility.htm

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