Vancouver landfill coughing up greenhouse gases: Delta

Delta's mayor is upset with gases spewing from the Vancouver Landfill.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

Delta is raising a stink over gases being spewed into Ladner from the City of Vancouver-run landfill.

Late last year, Delta staff received several complaints about bad smells from residents close to the landfill. 

Landfills generate highly odorous and flammable gases which are supposed to be captured by landfill operators. Landfills also emit CO2, which is a harmful greenhouse gas.

"The estimated landfill gas collection rate for 2009 is 41 per cent," wrote Mike Brotherston, Delta's Manager of Climate Action and Environment in a report to council Monday. "This is well below the City of Vancouver's estimated recovery efficiency of 77 per cent and well below Ministry of Environment guidelines."

Those guidelines require a recovery of at least 75 per cent.

Mayor Lois Jackson said Wednesday she was shocked to hear how much of the gas was escaping.

"My concern is the recapture rate is half of what it should be," Jackson said, adding she's more concerned about the 360,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases being belched from the landfill each year.

"That amount of CO2 is equivalent to all the emissions for everything in Delta – all the arenas, all the houses, all the cars, all trucks, everything," Jackson said.

In a Feb. 2 letter to Delta, Vancouver staff wrote that the amount of waste taken at the site was 32 per cent lower in 2009 than was forecast. That fact threw projections off.

A "remediation plan" is under way at the landfill to increase the amount of gas captured, Vancouver staff wrote.

Jackson is also troubled by the delay in getting the emission reports from  Vancouver.

Prior to Monday, the last report Delta received was for 2008.

After much prodding, Delta received the 2009 figures from Vancouver, which indicated the 41-per-cent capture rate.

Jackson said if the news was better in 2010, Vancouver would have already given Delta those numbers too.

Jackson had a scheduled meeting with Vancouver Mayor Gregore Robertson in the coming weeks, and now she says this topic will be top of the agenda.

"We didn't realize we'd be dealing with that, but that will be the top of the list," Jackson said. At that meeting, she said, she'll be wanting the numbers for 2010, and "where are we with correcting the issue."

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