Building materials that have tested positive for asbestos have been dumped in eight different areas in Metchosin since mid-January, costing about $5,000 to clean up. according to a District councillor.
Coun. Sharie Epp said thick, black garbage bags have been dumped in various locations around Metchosin and seem to contain building materials like drywall.
She said Metchosin’s public works crew have been getting calls about the dumping but are required to have anything that appears to be building materials tested first before clearing it. She said staff must put on gloves and masks and take a sample of the material to get tested. If it comes back positive for asbestos contamination – which has been the case for all of these bags – a hazmat company needs to be called to take them away.
“We’re assuming it probably does come from the same source but it’s impossible to tell,” Epp said. “They’re big, black garbage bags and seem to be the same kind of materials.”
Epp said regulations from WorkSafeBC do not allow Metchosin employees to do anything more than take a sample from the bags. If they are contaminated, they can’t be touched and signage is put up to warn the public as well.
The time it takes for District crews to deal with the bags, as well as the cost of calling hazmat crews, has cost Metchosin about $5,000, Epp said.
“The dumping in Metchosin is getting pretty bad anyway,” Epp said. “It’s on the increase. Every Friday we wind up with a truck full of items, but obviously contaminated material is definitely a worry. It’s a health hazard and costly.”
A file has been started with West Shore RCMP about the drywall dumping, Epp said, and she encourages others who might witness it or know more to call police.
Const. Nancy Saggar of West Shore RCMP said in February, police received one complaint from a citizen in Metchosin about drywall dumping. However, there was no description of a suspect, making it difficult for police to follow up on it.
“We ask that if anyone notices suspicious activity to please call the police right away,” Saggar said.