British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Status report on special waste management in British Columbia Hubbard, Lanny T. 1984

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Proceedings of the 8th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Victoria, BC, 1984. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation STATUS REPORT ON SPECIAL WASTE MANAGEMENT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA by Lanny T. Hubbard, P.Eng. This paper reviews the status of the special waste management program of the Province of British Columbia. Special wastes are wastes potentially hazardous to human health and/or the environment which require special management techniques. Approximately 74,000 tonnes are thought to be generated annually in the province, mostly in the Van- couver area. The program's waste manage- ment technologies, waste management legis- lation, criteria for siting disposal facilities, and public information plan are among the major topics discussed. Introduction During the past three years the proper management of special wastes in British Columbia has become one of the highest priorities of the Ministry of Environment. This concern has arisen from growing public pressure to provide proper management of special wastes, and from observation of the serious consequences where special wastes have been poorly managed. Today I am speaking on behalf of British Columbia's Environmental Safety Pro- gram, which is part of the Waste Manage- ment Program of the Ministry of Environ- ment. This paper reviews the status of the Province's special waste management pro- gram. Some of you may have noticed the use of the term "special wastes" rather than "hazardous wastes," so I will begin by ex- plaining what we mean by this term. Second, I would like to consider the definition of special wastes, and in particular, our special waste list. After a brief review of the special waste inventory for B.C., it will be interest- ing to consider some of the major compon- ents of the Province's special waste manage- ment program. These include special waste laws and regulations, disposal facilities and their siting, and importantly, our public in- formation programs. Special Waste Definition Recently an ad hoc Canadian task force resolved that special wastes are "those wastes which due to their nature and quantity are potentially hazardous to human health and/or the environment and which require special disposal techniques to eliminate or reduce the hazard." They may be classified as ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, infec- tious, bioaccumulative, and mutagenic, car- cinogenic, or teratogenic. You may be curious to know why the British Columbia government uses the label "special wastes" rather than "hazardous wastes." The term "special" signifies the need for special disposal technologies and tech- niques, rather than the traditional disposal processes of sanitary landfilling and primary sewage treatment. It is not intended to down- play the hazardous properties of these sub- stances, but rather, it places emphasis on the need for special management procedures. Simply, we wish to emphasize solutions to our waste problems, not the problems them- selves. Special Waste Inventory Several years ago, the consulting com- pany Reid, Crowther and Partners Ltd., was commissioned to prepare a comprehensive report on special waste management for the five western Provinces, the Yukon and North- west Territories, and the Federal government of Canada. In this study an approximate inventory was developed for special wastes, and it was estimated that 74,000 metric tonnes (wet weight) of these materials are generated per year in British Columbia. The dry weight annual generation rate is believed to be about half that amount. About 26,000 15 Proceedings of the 8th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Victoria, BC, 1984. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation tonnes or 36% of the total are oils. Acids constitute nearly 20%, while miscellaneous materials such as tank bottoms, paint, plas- tics, tannery wastes, and PCBs include ap- proximately 18% of the total. As one might expect, a large proportion of our special wastes arise in Greater Van- couver area. Reid, Crowther and Partners calculate that about 78% of the total orig- inates around the Lower Mainland, while the remaining major regions in B.C. are thought to produce each less than 5% of the Provin- cial total, except for the Kamloops area, which is thought to produce 7% annually. Now since these statistics clearly indicate a special waste problem does exist in B.C., the next questions concerns what steps are being taken to regulate their management. Waste Management Legislation The Province's Waste Management Act has been in place almost two years. TF combines the former Pollution Control Act and Litter Acts, and additionally provides a powerful legislative means of managing special wastes. Here, the major impact is to establish a comprehensive special waste transportation manifest system, plus a mechanism for the issuing of permits for special waste storage, treatment, and dis- posal facilities. While the Waste Manage- ment Act describes a broad outline for the special waste management system, special waste regulations provide greater detail for implementation of the plan. Special Waste List B.C.'s special waste list, which is part of the Waste Management Act's regulations, defines special wastes as those wastes con- taining substances or compounds described in the list. A waste generator will simply need to refer to a special waste exemption code, reading from a graph derived by consider- ation of wastes' quantity, concentration, and hazard, to determine whether his wastes are exempt. A short example will illustrate the use of this system. Assume for a moment that I am a pesticide manufacturer who wishes to dispose of 500 kg of a contaminated mixture containing 5%, or 50 g/kg of 2,4-D. To find whether this qualifies as a special waste, first I consult the list of special waste ex- emptions, which precedes the special waste list. Materials such as foundry moulding sand, polymerized plastic and rubber, building and demolition scraps, etc., are not considered special wastes, but pesticides are not ex- empt, according to this list. Second, I consult Schedule I of the Regulations, "Specific Special Wastes" to determine whether 2,4-D appears. Since it does not, I next examine Schedule 2, "Generic Special Wastes" under Pesticides — halogentated organic pesti- cides, and find that exemption code C applies. Upon inspection of Schedule 3, which is the graph "Special Waste Exemption Codes," I find that the quantity of this mix- ture and the concentration of 2,4-D falls far above curve C. Thus, the waste is not ex- empt, and it qualifies as a special waste. To be exempt, its quantity and concentration would have to fall below or to the left of the curve. Special Waste Transportation Manifest System British Columbia's Waste Mangement Act, in part, deals with the proper transport- ation of special wastes by implementing a compulsory special waste transfer manifest system, it involves a systematic method of tracking the movement of special wastes from their point of generation, to their ulti- mate disposal, destruction, or long-term storage sites. The Ministry of Environment has de- veloped a three-part, six-copy form which requires specific information from the shipper and carrier, before special waste transportation occurs, and from the receiver, before receipt of the ship is acknowledged. The identity of the shipper, carrier, and re- ceiver, and waste's nature, quantity, destin- ation, and handling and emergency proce- dures are several major elements. Special Waste Facility Proposals In  late January   1982, the  Ministry of 16 Proceedings of the 8th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Victoria, BC, 1984. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Environment invited competitive proposals for the handling and management of special wastes in the province. It was decided to give the private sector an opportunity to indicate what it is willing and able to do in the special waste field. By July 1982, the Ministry re- ceived detailed submissions from nine com- panies. These were reviewed for environ- mental impact, technical feasibility, and pro- ject scheduling by an inter-Ministry assess- ment committee and a sub-committee re- porting on financial capabilities, socio- economic impact, and corporate responsi- bility. The assessment committee produced a short list of four proponents: Browning-Ferris Industries Ltd., Chem-Security Ltd., Genstar Conservation Systems/IT Corporation, and Stablex (Canada) Ltd. These firms were in- terviewed in late November, and in September 1983, Environment Minister Tony Brummet endorsed the joint proposal by Genstar and IT Corporations. This firm dem- onstrated that it could properly handle the full range of special wastes generated in British Columbia, at no net cost to the Pro- vince, based on fair and equitable user fees. Special Waste Management Technologies Genstar and IT Corporations have pro- posed a series of special waste management technologies which are outlined in a "Letter of Understanding" with the Province. In- cluded are:   - regional collection stations   - receiving and storage facilities   - physical-chemical treatment processes, using technologies such as concentra tion, separation, and neutralization   - biological treatment, using the perched bed system: a type of landfarming on an artificial   soil   medium.   It   eliminates groundwater   pollution   through   a   sub surface liquid collection system.   - high temperature destruction: organic    liquids will be blended with fuel and   incinerated in Genstar's cemet kiln in   Delta.   - secure landfill: located on Crown land in the south  central   interior  of B.C., this facility will receive solids and so- lidified residues from the treatment facilities. Siting Special Waste Management Facilities Considerable thought has been given to the siting of special waste facilities in B.C. Physical, chemical, and biological treatment plants, special waste incinerators, and col- lection and storage depots can be accommo- dated in many industrially zoned areas, since these facilities are not so dependent on geo- graphical and climatic factors for their se- curity. However, siting of a secure landfill is more involved because it requires long term security from resource conflicts and unsuit- able natural surroundings. Our mountainous and wet zones are generally considered to be unsuitable, mainly because of the threat of ground or surface water contamination, due to excessive preci- pitation. Since most of the special wastes now produced in British Columbia come from the Lower Mainland, selection of the north- ern part of the Province seems unlikely be- cause of limited accessibility, and higher transportation costs and risks. By eliminating these areas, the dry southern central interior of B.C. emerges as the most suitable area for a secure landfill. The most preferred general areas in B.C. were identified in the Reid, Crowther and Partners report, and this constitute Phase I of the secure landfill siting process. Next, the Surveys and Resource Mapping Branch of the Ministry undertook a more detailed, comprehensive investigation of high potential special waste secure landfill areas. During this Phase Il siting process, a base map and 14 sets of overlays were used to describe a variety of siting constraints such as heritage resources, surface and under- ground water features, surface geology, pre- cipitation, wildlife capability, and agricul- tural land use. When these data were com- bined and evaluated, 1 I potentially suitable areas emerged. Generally, these are located on Crown land between areas of higher eleva- tion and higher precipitation, and valley bot- toms which are often privately owned, in the 17 Proceedings of the 8th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Victoria, BC, 1984. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Agriculture Land Reserve, within critical ha- bitat areas and/or important for their groundwater resources. Two of the 11 general areas were viewed as most suitable when the additional requirement of maximizing transportation safety and minimizing road construction costs by locating the site reasonably close to major transportation routes was included. Phase 111 of the secure landfill siting process involves onsite investigations by Genstar and IT Corporations. Such studies have begun with an examination of surface materials and seismic work. When the most promising sites within each area are identi- fied, drilling programs to determine the depth and quality of soil, bedrock, and groundwater are to be performed. Once the results of on-site studies and the public participation plan are evaluated, the company will file applications with the provincial government. Final approval will be made through the processes in which waste management permits are granted. Finally, the development of the special waste management system in the Lower Mainland should gather speed this Spring. After a period of planning and assessing gen- eration rates of B.C.'s special wastes, Genstar and IT are now prepared to imple- ment their facility siting and public partici- pation programs. Public Information Programs The     last     of     the     special     waste management program components I will dis- cuss is the need to inform and involve the public. Both the province and Genstar/IT Corporations are committed to public parti- cipation throughout the development of the special waste program. For example, during the siting process, local residents who have first-hand knowledge of the potential sites in question, are a valuable resource. In fact, Genstar and IT, by agreement with the Pro- vince, are implementing a public partici- pation plan which will provide for ongoing public review and input into site selection, environmental and socio-economic Impact as- sessment, and project monitoring. Conclusion To conclude, in comparison with many of the more heavily industrialized areas of the world, i t  is apparent that Bri t ish Columbia is in a fortunate situation concern- ing special wastes. While a special waste problem does exist in the Province, our special waste in- ventory is relatively small, and implement- ation of a comprehensive special waste pro- gram is well underway. Appropriate legisla- tion is in place, a special waste transfer manifest system has been developed, and special waste management facilities are being developed. We are confident that British Columbia will be able to avoid the deleterious human and environmental impact seen in scores of poorly-managed programs elsewhere. 18


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