By Bromley Chamberlain
Alberta Environment will investigate whether unsuitable construction materials were incinerated last week at the dump.
Wednesday is burning day at the Rimbey transfer station but on Oct. 6 demolition materials from the old veterinary building were in the burning pile.
The black smoke could be seen for miles.
The pile contained scraps of wood, insulation, shingles and acrylonitrile-butadience-styrene (ABS) pipes. Concerned residents also spotted X-rays in the pile, but the owner of the clinic says files are kept for seven years.
“There might have been old paperwork. All our X-rays are on computer now,” said Ian Giebelhaus, owner of the Rimbey Veterinary Clinic. “Every X-ray that had been done in the past seven years, we keep. I can’t imagine there’d be any X-rays getting burnt,”
Nikirk Bros Ltd. has a contract with the town to transport large demolition projects to the station. When the building was demolished it was Nikirk that transported the materials to the Rimbey transfer station.
“It was sorted. The metals and everything were taken out before the building was dismantled,” explained Dennis Nikirk. “All the products and materials that are not burnable, not accepted as burnable by the town’s bylaws, were removed from the building before it was demolished.” The town’s policy refers to solid waste transfer site operations.
That policy states building demolition materials are acceptable with prior approval by the public works department.
The Rimbey public works department was told not to comment on the transfer station and was referring all questions to the town office. Tony Goode, Rimbey’s CAO, wasn’t aware that public works was referring questions to the town.
“Well it’s (building materials) not defined. It’s a catch-all. That’s the problem,” Goode said.
Public works must approve loads of building materials but according to Goode that load was not approved..
“I was advised that public works was not contacted as to the contents of what was being burnt,” Goode said.
The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Alberta Regulation 124/1993, states:
“Prohibited debris” means any combustible waste that, when burned, may result in the release to the atmosphere of dense smoke, offensive odours or toxic substances and includes, but is not limited to
(iv) Non-wooden material
(v) Waste materials from building or construction sites, excluding wooden materials that do not contain wood preservatives.
(viii) Rubber or plastic, or anything containing or coated in rubber or plastic or similar substances, except rubber or plastic attached to a shredded scrap steel.
A concerned citizen said they (the town) did the same to the hospital and the pool. All of it was all burnt.
The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act also states in section 3, 4 (1):
“Maximum opacity of visible emissions: Where the opacity of visual emissions from a source is not governed by the terms and conditions of an approval or by a code or practice, the visible emissions released from the source shall not exceed an opacity of 40 per cent.”
A source familiar with the regulations said the load should have been transferred to Bluffton and put in a pit and buried instead of burned.
“They should have separated it right from the beginning, that’s what they should have done, demoed it properly. It’s whatever the town says, that’s what goes,” said the source who preferred to remain anonymous. “They probably did it to save some bucks from going to Bluffton.”
Carrie Sancargier, a spokesperson for Alberta Environment, was unaware of the burning. To burn rubber and plastic, Alberta Environment should have been contacted.
“There is debris that would require and approval (from Alberta Environment) things like rubber and plastic and waste material from construction sites. What we’re going to do is follow up on this instance and find out, ensure that this facility is in compliance with our regulations,” said Sancargier.