Landfill site found wanting

Dear Sir:

Re: “Landfill Location Was Chosen Fairly” letter, The Terrace Standard, September 28, 2011.

Dear Sir:

Re: “Landfill Location Was Chosen Fairly” letter, The Terrace Standard, September 28, 2011.

Les Watmough is to be thanked for suggesting that light needs shed on the proposal for the Forceman Ridge landfill (originally known as Onion Lake-East) landfill, but the fact remains that there has been zero public information since the 2002 brochure.

The first concern is the site’s unusual geology.  The consequence of putting a landfill on the top of a 500 foot sand and gravel hill is the tremendous cost of correcting contamination under a leaking landfill liner.

Any benefits of this site have to be offset by the contingency costs for dealing with such an event. This situation is similar to the impact of choosing low cost shoreline cooling sites for Japanese nuclear reactors.

The second and far more alarming concern is the discovery that the 230,000 litres per day of treated leachate is expected to head directly towards Upper Clearwater Lake and ultimately to Lakelse Lake.

This is the biologically exceptional and internationally significant Lakelse Wetlands Park (visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks ).

We should not be continuing development of a plan with no hope of reversing any contamination in the very porous corridor leading to Clearwater Lakes.

The estimated time for leachate to reach Upper Clearwater Lake is said to be 7 to 15 years.

But science and standards are constantly being upgraded.

So how would we deal, for example, with a discovery 10 years into operation that some pharmaceutical septic effluent has been found to be not very good for sockeye fry’s return navigation abilities?

Also of concern is the absence of a detailed risk assessment to evaluate the potential for people mistakes, equipment malfunctions and external surprises like earthquakes or extreme climate conditions.

The chances of mishaps will be small but the consequences are definitely not. Remember the unexamined risks of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil drilling?

The Forceman proposal may be a very smart facility but it’s certainly not a very smart site.

Considering the hundreds of thousands of visitor days enjoyed every year in the many recreational opportunities that the Lakelse area offers, a wise plan now would be to choose an alternative site or put this design in the existing Thornhill site which is said to have a further 34 years capacity and which will require to be remediated anyway.

Ian Maxwell,

Lakelse Lake, B.C.