City of Kamloops working to improve Barnhartvale Landfill operations after warning letter from ministry

City warned about landfill

The City of Kamloops has been issued a warning by the province after an inspection of the Barnhartvale Landfill found some instances of non-compliance with refuse permit requirements.

Glen Farrow, the city’s streets and environmental services manager, said city staff is working through the ministry’s inspection report to get more clarity around some of the province’s findings, and to see how it can improve on-site operations.

“We have three sites around town, and we’re more than willing and open to walk through and learn where we can get better and what we need to do. And that's exactly what we're doing here,” Farrow said.

“Some of them [the ministry’s findings] are administrative in nature and other ones we need to understand what the ask or requirement is based on our current design and operations plan. And we are currently working towards understanding that through the ministry.”

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change conducted a planned inspection of the Barnhartvale Landfill in late January. Farrow said regular landfill inspections occurred in the past — leading to a good understanding with local ministry representatives — but the frequency of inspections has been inconsistent in recent years.

An official advisory and a warning letter was issued by the province at the end of March. In its warning letter, the ministry detailed clauses in the city’s refuse permit that were assessed for compliance during the inspection and officials’ findings.

While the Barnhartvale Landfill was in compliance with 18 clauses, there were 10 instances of non-compliance, according to the ministry.

Ministry officials noted there was some information missing in the city’s monthly and annual reports, and said the city needed to submit training records for some landfill staff. Officials determined the landfill sign needed additional information, like details around hazardous waste disposal and tipping fees.

The ministry also found while the Barnhartvale Landfill had heavy equipment and soil to tackle accidental fires, there wasn't an on-site water source with "sufficient capacity and pressure to provide adequate flow for firefighting purposes."

The letter notes city staff informed officials water containers are maintained at the facility during summer months.

Another area of non-compliance was around the disposal of horse manure in the landfill.

“Manure is agricultural waste and is not considered to be typical municipal solid waste; therefore the permit is out of compliance with this requirement,” the ministry letter said.

Farrow said city staffers are working to get more information around this requirement, and what the ministry considers to be agricultural waste.

He said many nearby residents have one or two horses, so the city has allowed small amounts of manure in the landfill for years.

“I'm not talking large volumes from, say, a feedlot operation where there's tons and tons of manure being brought to our facility — that's not the case," Farrow said.

"It's more of a very sporadic, random situation where we've deemed it more as pet waste."

The ministry said scattered litter around the landfill site must be prevented or cleaned, but officials noticed “abundant litter, including large [or] heavy objects such as mattresses, scattered around the site along fence lines and in low-lying areas,” even though steel plates and wood chips were used to daily cover landfill material.

“Please ensure that the best practical means available are used to prevent the scatter of litter at the site, and that litter scattered at the site or into neighbouring properties is cleaned up in a timely manner,” the letter said.

Farrow said the mattresses observed near the site could have been due to illegal dumping, but noted the high winds in Kamloops present a challenge when it comes to maintaining the landfill.

He said the city is looking to do a better job on the landfill site’s regular housekeeping.

“There are different mitigating factors we've included with fencing and putting down cover material on top of waste, but it's a real fine balance between using too much cover material — which ultimately takes up landfill space and capacity — versus controlling the litter,” Farrow said.

Farrow said the city works closely with a contracting company which operates its landfills. While there are some city staff who work at larger sites like Mission Flats, the Barnhartvale site is smaller and operations are handled by the contractor.

He said staff are working with the contractor to put up appropriate fencing to control the spread of litter, ensuring it is moved as the landfill expands.

The province asked the city to respond to its warning notice within 30 days, detailing which actions are being taken to prevent future non-compliance. The ministry hasn't issued any fines or penalties.

Farrow said a response was sent, and staff continue to work through the information received from ministry officials.

“This is a good learning opportunity, and we'll improve what we need to improve and there's nothing too alarming through this that would have anyone to be too concerned about future risks,” Farrow said.

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