Metro Vancouver seeks new backup landfill

Waste-to-energy push not over, but new dump needed to take garbage in meantime: officials

Metro Vancouver is looking for a new landfill to accept the region’s excess garbage that’s not either burned at its Burnaby incinerator or dumped at the Vancouver Landfill in Delta.

The regional district’s contract to use the Cache Creek landfill expires at the end of this year, so Metro will call for bids for a replacement to take 50,000 to 200,000 tonnes of garbage per year for seven years.

“The original hope was that we would have our new waste-to-energy facility up and running but that hasn’t happened for many reasons,” Metro zero waste committee chair Malcolm Brodie said.

“So now we need contingency landfills either until the waste volumes are significantly reduced or until waste-to-energy gets up and running.”

Metro announced in December it was halting its procurement process for a new incinerator but left the door open to restart it at a later date.

Brodie said while opponents may have concluded the project was dead, it will come back for reconsideration in the second half of this year.

“The plan is still on,” Brodie said. “There’s been no change in intention. We still think waste-to-energy is the most effective way from an environmental and economic standpoint.”

A representative of the Rabanco landfill run by Republic Services in southern Washington said the firm hopes to win the contingency landfill contract, which would see up to 10 railway cars per day double stacked with garbage containers and hauled south on the BNSF rail line.

Other landfills as far away as Alberta or Oregon could also be in the running.

While the original Cache Creek landfill is set to close, an adjacent expansion has been approved that could also be a contender.

A total of 800,000 tonnes of Metro Vancouver garbage is expected to require disposal this year, a number that has declined over the years as recycling efforts improved.

About 400,000 tonnes is expected to go to the Vancouver Landfill in Delta in 2016, while 270,000 tonnes will be incinerated and a final 130,000 tonnes will go to Cache Creek.

The new contract will allow Metro to terminate it on one year’s notice if waste flows fall sharply.

The regional district is also preparing to issue new contracts to operate its waste transfer stations in Surrey, Coquitlam, Langley, Maple Ridge and the North Shore. It’s currently considering proposals from five short-listed bidders.

Up until about 2007, Metro landfilled 500,000 tonnes a year at the Cache Creek dump and another 750,000 tonnes at the Vancouver Landfill – use of that site in Burns Bog is to gradually scale down towards an eventual closure.

Those waste volumes shrank over the years, and with them Metro officials pared down their plans for a new incinerator.

Recent fluctuations in waste flow – as some commercial haulers chose to take garbage to Abbotsford for shipment to the U.S. – added more uncertainty to the waste-to-energy calculations, prompting Metro to shelve the plan rather than overbuild.

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