Questions remain about fly ash at the Cache Creek landfill

Ermes Culos writes in with questions and concerns about the landfill.

Dear Editor,

The lead article in last week’s Journal (“Cache Creek landfill fly ash assessment: ‘minimal risk’”) makes a couple of highly questionable and damaging statements.

It states, wrongly, that “the shipments of fly ash that tested positive for high amounts of cadmium . . . were subsequently excavated and taken to a hazardous waste facility.” To my knowledge this is simply not true. All the fly ash deposited at the Cache Creek monofill is still there—including the ash that the Ministry (but not the laboratory that tested it) now conveniently finds to have been most likely free of contaminants.

In stating (correctly) that the Cache Creek landfill has been accepting fly ash since 2000, and then going on to state (misleadingly) that the “landfill’s impervious liner and leachate collection system ensure that the fly ash is fully contained and the chemical constituents are not able to leach from the site,” the article also creates the false impression that all the ash deposited in the landfill is contained.

This, again, is not true. Only the ash deposited in the past two-and-a-half years is treated with greater care; that is, it is placed in a monofill that does contains a synthetic liner. (Incidentally, it is simply beyond me why an “impervious”—as if such a thing existed!—synthetic liner should be needed when the Ministry and the operators insist that the cadmium and other heavy metals are fully stabilized by the treatment method used.)

What is truly disturbing is that no mention is made of how the 100,000 tonnes and more of fly ash that found their way into the old part of the dump—that is, the part without any liner at all—are going to be kept from leaching into the groundwater; especially since that ash comes in contact with the moisture of the regular garbage, which has the effect of seriously undermining the effect of the treatment process.

Ermes Culos


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