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Lillooet landfill reopens after ‘potential chemical contamination’

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The Lillooet Landfill will reopen at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29, after being closed over the weekend due to a possible chemical contamination.

The landfill was closed around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 24, after a punctured container containing an unknown substance was dumped at the landfill. Residents were asked to avoid the area. One of the landfill operators was exhibiting symptoms consistent with chemical exposure, according to a news release from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

The employee was taken to the hospital for observation and was later released.

The Lillooet Fire Department and an environmental response team were deployed to the site. A hazardous materials team removed all hazardous waste that had been illegally placed at the landfill. On Monday, May 27, staff accompanied an industrial hygienist to the landfill to monitor air quality. The specialist later gave the go-ahead for a safe reopening.

The SLRD reminds people of the importance of not disposing of hazardous waste in local landfills.

“This is an important reminder of the unintended consequences of placing hazardous waste at the landfill, which can pose a safety risk to landfill personnel and the public,” they wrote. “It is important to remind everyone that the Lillooet Landfill does not accept hazardous waste. If the public is unsure how to dispose of materials, they can call the SLRD at 604-894-6371 or email [email protected].”

In a Facebook post, officials assured the public that the area was now safe and dispelled rumors circulating on social media.

“We are aware of misinformation circulating on social media about the Lillooet Landfill, including photos of bags and drums at the site,” they wrote. “The SLRD would like to take this opportunity to clarify the following:

• Asbestos will be accepted in accordance with the existing landfill permit and all associated regulations. The machine operator is qualified to handle asbestos in accordance with WorkSafe BC requirements. Asbestos will be accepted in 6mm double bags as required.

• The barrels on site have been inspected by a qualified professional and have been approved for use as ground cover as recommended by the Department for the Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

“Hazardous waste is not permitted or accepted at the Lillooet Landfill.”