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Toxic chemicals discharged from Abbotsford waste facility into fish-bearing creek

Company responsible is under contract with the City of Abbotsford
View of a stockpile at the facility on Vye Road. Ministry of Environment photo.

A provincial inspection of an Abbotsford waste facility found toxic chemicals being discharged into a fish-bearing creek.

GFL Environmental – which is under contract with the City of Abbotsford – was flagged by the Ministry of Environment on March 15, 2022 for its waste discharge into a ditch network that feeds Lonzo Creek.

On Jan. 31, environmental protection officers inspected the company’s Vye Road facility, which collects municipal waste, construction and demolition waste, drywall, recyclables and used oil.

Officers observed these materials being collected and stored in various piles, and an oil-water separator on-site – a piece of equipment meant to filter leachate and stormwater drainage from the facility.

But samples taken from both the stormwater drain inside the facility, and the drain leaving the facility, failed to meet two environmental guidelines, according to the report.

The results found the water discharge contained nitrate, ammonia, aluminum, arsenic, boron, cobalt, manganese, zinc, toluene, xylene, pnthracene, penz(a)anthracene, penzo(a)pyrene, pluoranthene, phenanthrene, and pyrene above the accepted levels.

Testing of the samples from inside the facility showed a 33 per cent effluent concentration caused a 50 per cent mortality rate in rainbow trout, and 44 per cent concentration caused a 50 per cent mortality rate in Daphnia magna.

Notably, the company does not hold waste discharge authorization under the Environmental Management Act, an offence can be subject to a fine of up to $1 million, or imprisonment up to six months.

The ministry may choose to impose an administrative penalty as an alternative; provincial regulators practice escalating enforcement action, and this is a first-time infraction for the company.

The company was given 30 days to get into compliance by ceasing unauthorized discharges and obtaining the proper authorization, according to the report, adding it will be prioritized for follow-up inspections.

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View of the stormwater drain within the GFL facility on Vye Road. Ministry of Environment photo.