Contaminated yard and wood waste cause for concern at South Okanagan landfills

FILE PHOTO - The regional district has been contending with a rash of contaminated yard waste at the region's landfills, resulting in punitive dump fees, damage to chipping equipment and potential safety concerns for personnel.

PENTICTON - Residents and contractors beware: contaminated loads of yard and wood waste could prove costly at regional district landfills in the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

Landfill operators are concerned about potential safety issues and equipment damage after processing contaminated yard waste deliveries started showing up at the landfill recently.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen solid waste facilities supervisor Don Hamilton says property owners need to be careful when clearing land. He says the regional district’s landfills are seeing heavy equipment operators scraping rocks into loads of yard waste to save time.

“This puts people at our landfills at risk of serious harm if they don’t see stones or rocks when chipping. People could be seriously hurt if rocks hit these powerful moving blades,” he says.

Hamilton says the issue has always been a problem, but several recent loads at Campbell Mountain landfill have been problematic.

“It could be a contractor not aware of what we require. It’s mostly rock that is contaminating the loads, but it presents a big problem with wear and tear on equipment and the potential danger to operators,” he says.

Several contractors faced big bills as a result of the contaminated yard waste, with fines of $255 per tonne resulting in bills in the thousands of dollars for a load.

Yard waste is subsidized at all landfills in the regional district to encourage residents not to burn.

The first 500 kilograms are free and $50 per tonne after that.

“Keeping rocks and other debris out of yard and wood waste will save contractor’s customers money,” Hamilton says.

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