A City of Prince George water well in the BCR Industrial site has not shown any signs of contamination.
Last week Brink Forest Products released a pair of environmental reports stating that a landfill, located about 100 metres from the city well and 200 metres from the Fraser River, is likely leaching toxic materials in the groundwater.
“With respect to water quality from the PW627 well, the City of Prince George regularly samples (bi-annually) the water from all of its active wells and there has not been an exceedance of any parameter tested in comparison to the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines,” said Gina Layte Liston, the city’s director of public works, in an e-mail to the Daily News.
The Brink Forest Products reports, conducted by Amec Foster Wheeler Environmental and Infrastructure from Nanaimo and Case Forensics from Washington State, also say there is a risk of explosion from a build-up of methane gas in the decommissioned landfill.
Layte Liston said the Ministry of Environment has jurisdiction over issues related to the landfill itself.
In 2005, Brink Forest Products signed a lease-to-purchase agreement for the 100-acre site in the BCR Industrial Park with BCR Properties. Brink Forest Products had planned to build a new two-line sawmill on the site. With the mill partially-built, construction came to a halt with the discovery of the landfill.
Amec Foster Wheeler Environmental and Infrastructure conducted a water quality analysis on the site in July, 2017 and Case Forensics provided an expert opinion regarding the hazards posed to public health and safety.
Water sampling conducted by Amec discovered various metals that exceed Canada Safety Regulation and British Columbia Approved Water Quality (BCAWQ) guidelines. “Groundwater results indicated elevated levels of arsenic, cobalt, iron, manganese, and sodium,” reads the report. “Elevated concentrations of dissolved manganese, exceeding BCAWQ guidelines were observed within the drainage ditch, which flows directly into the Fraser River.”
The Amec report also discovered the landfill was covered with pit-run sand and gravel, which, according to the report, provides minimal protection against surface water and air intrusion into the landfill. In addition, there are no leachate collection provisions at the landfill, meaning the leachate likely flows subsurface with the groundwater towards the Fraser River, the report concluded.
Modern landfill designs call for complete encapsulation of the landfill contents and the gas emissions and liquid effluent are collected and treated.
According to the Case Forensics report, the landfill materials are susceptible to spontaneous heating and ignition. This could result in a smouldering fire at the site, it stated. The report also determined the landfill materials are “undergoing decomposition and are producing combustible methane gas that could accumulate in ignitable mixtures that could produce an explosion and/or deflagration.”
Brink Forest Products launched a civil suit against BCR Properties in 2013. The company is suing BCR Properties for fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming BCR Properties had a duty to disclose the presence of the landfill, which created an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment; and that it failed to comply with its obligations under the Waste Management Act or the Environmental Management Act.