With more questions than answers about a request from the Penticton Indian Band to move a mountain of potentially hazardous waste to the Campbell Mountain Landfill, local politicians voted unanimously Thursday to table the issue until more information comes forward.
An estimated 5,000 tonnes of garbage was piled up at a site on Green Mountain Road by Appleton Waste, which went bankrupt this spring. The land in belongs to locatee owner Adam Eneas, a member of the PIB.
In addition to seeking permission to dump the waste at the Campbell Mountain Landfill, which is operated by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the PIB is also asking for a reduction in tipping fees from $700 to $220 per tonne.
That would just cover the RDOS’s expected costs of $1.1 million, but also leave about $2.4 million in potential revenue on the table.
Cost aside, RDOS directors have many more concerns about the plan, including liability, the reduction in the landfill’s lifespan, unknown hazardous material buried in the piles, and the precedent it may set.
“This proposal coming forward is very concerning, not only for myself and city council, but also to the citizens of Penticton,” said Mayor John Vassilaki, also an RDOS director, who noted the city would insist the material is sorted at Green Mountain Road before being trucked to Campbell Mountain.
Other directors were interested in learning what steps the PIB had taken to get help from the provincial or federal governments and if Eneas would turn a profit on the deal. However, RDOS operations manager Andrew Reeder said he had been unable to set up a meeting with Eneas or PIB officials about the request.
Their absence at Thursday’s session was also noted.
“I was hoping we would have seen Mr. Eneas or a representative from the PIB here today, considering they’re asking us to waive $2.4 million in tipping fees,” said Karla Kozakevich, the RDOS board chairwoman and director for Naramata.
RDOS staff will now try to get answers to some of the directors’ questions before putting the matter back in front of the board at date to be determined.
Reeder estimated the waste piles at 10,000 cubic metres in volume – the landfill accepts about 25,000 cubic metres in total annually – and said the material would have to be buried in a bladder in a new part of the landfill with a dedicated access road. The RDOS would also have to purchase about $200,000 worth of clean soil to cover the waste.
As first reported by The Herald in April, Appleton Waste declared itself insolvent after taking on debt worth $2.5 million. A proposal to creditors would have seen them receive in the range of 47 to 57 cents on the dollar.
Among the creditors listed was Eneas, who was seeking $2,000, and the RDOS itself, which took Appleton Waste to court in 2018 to recoup $150,000 in tipping fees.