Local residents have two distinct concerns about a proposed landfill expansion in Wildwood: what’s there, and what would be added.
The capped landfill owned by Catalyst Paper is a haphazard mixture of metals, contaminated wood, hog–fuel, black, green and white liquor dregs, fly and bottom ash and unidentified substances. Dust and leachate from the site have historically been a problem in the community, and the landfill was capped because of contamination in 1995.
Catalyst proposes adding a 1 million ton, 20-metre fly-ash mountain on top of the capped landfill, making it the highest man made structure in the Powell River area, aside from the mill itself. The terminal cap is an unstable foundation for this structure.
A basic point of contention is the proximity of the landfill to local homes and businesses. Catalyst is seeking a waiver of the prescribed 300 metre buffer zone that protects residential neighbourhoods. At least 7 homes lie within 100 metres, and 90 homes and a restaurant lie within 300 metres of the site.
The proposed expansion poses at least two grave threats:
1. It would deform and pressurize the existing landfill, and thus exacerbate the toxic leachate into local groundwater.
2. The dioxin containing fly–ash dust has already been a problem at this site. Because of prevailing wind patterns, dioxin containing fly-ash dust goes directly to the local neighbourhood, including an elementary school 575 metres downwind. Residents say that the proposed height of the structure would greatly increase the dust problem. Catalyst contends that their current method of slurrying the fly-ash would stem the dust, although they base this on a study they admit was flawed. They recommend further dustfall testing in 2007. Read more »
Powell River residents gathered Saturday, May 26th at James Thomson School in Wildwood for a rally and parade sponsored by the fledgling group Powell River Legacy. The event gave voice to a huge groundswell of support to defeat Catalyst Paper’s application for a landfill expansion.
The rally featured local speakers as well as Green Party candidate Silvaine Zimmerman, musician John Tyler and the Powell River Raging Grannies. The event was capped by a bagpiper-led parade of over 350 people through the streets of Wildwood. The march ended at the landfill gates where community representatives delivered collected petitions to Catalyst personnel.
The 2700+ signature petition traveled to Victoria two days later with MLA Nicholas Simons to be delivered to the B.C. Legislature and Minister for the Environment, Barry Penner. The Legacy group maintains an active, informative website at www.prlegacy.org. The group anticipates tackling further community and sustainability related issues once the landfill permit application is defeated.