Review underway at Kamloops landfill after potentially toxic fire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Review underway at Kamloops landfill after potentially toxic fire

Aftermath of Mission Flats landfill fire March 2, 2021
March 10, 2021 - 10:00 AM

Kamloops city hall staff are carrying out an operational review at the Mission Flats landfill after a potentially toxic fire Feb. 27.

The review will include safety aspects of the operation, but "all of our operations have an element of safety built into them," Allan Michener, City of Kamloops environmental services supervisor said.

"Let's talk about what went well in terms of our response to the event, because fires at landfills do happen, but where are the opportunities for improvement," Michener said.

Michener told discussions are underway with GFL Environmental, the contractor in charge of overseeing the metal pile of debris that burned for 24 hours.

"We'll take immediate action on any items we identify by the end of next week if not sooner. It comes down to, as we do this debrief, is identify what changes to our systems if any need to take place. And if they're relatively minor changes that can be implemented relatively right away we will absolutely do so." 

While it's unlikely the cause of the fire will ever be discerned, Kamloops Fire Rescue said last week, some common sense from residents can go a long way by removing gasoline and fuel before you recycle metal. The city will examine potential causes of the fire in hopes of prevention, Michener said.

The day of the Mission Flats Landfill fire, March 6, 2021.
The day of the Mission Flats Landfill fire, March 6, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Kamloops Fire Department

Michener says any time a vehicle comes in with visible items, they are screened by staff before the resident is allowed to offload those contents, although not everyone can be relied upon to be honest.

"In the past we've had people tried to sneak past our staff (with undisclosed items). We do follow up with those customers, but we can only do so much."

Michener also said the city does monthly inspections of the landfill, and if operations aren't meeting their expectations, a deadline will be struck for change to be made. He says any changes asked of GFL Environmental have been "nothing significant" in recent years.

"We've never had a situation where we had to do a complete teardown of any processes on site," he said. "We'll work with the contractor to understand what is the current process and if we need to adjust that process to see what a change might be."

Michener also said they'll look into a constant attendant on site at the metal pile.

"It's part of the lookback we do with our contractor. We lean on their expertise as this isn't the only landfill that they have experience at. So it's also what do we consider to be best industry practice," he said. "We're going to be revisiting our overall processes: What's being done at the screening level, what's being done currently with monitoring of the pile, is there room for improvement."

Michener said he wants to hear about any concerns there may be about the Mission Flats Landfill, and urges the public to call their feedback to the civic operations department at  250-828-3461.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Darren Rathwell or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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