Waste company eyes Maple Ridge

Aevitas says it would not handle PCBs at site proposed for north 256th Street

A company that recycles and handles hazardous waste is looking to set up shop in Maple Ridge.

Aevitas has nine locations across the country, including one in Richmond, and on Monday a company spokesman explained what operations it proposes for an industrial site at 14160-256th St. in Maple Ridge.

At the proposed new location, Aevitas would process oil-filled and drained electrical equipment, and degassify and filter new and used transformer oil. It would also handle waste oils, paints, batteries, spent lamps, spent aerosols, cleaning solutions and fire extinguishers.

Aevitas was in the headlines in 2015 for a proposed site in Chilliwack that was opposed by the environmental group Watershed Watch and by the Sto:lo Tribal Council. The site was in the Fraser River flood plain, and opponents worried the site could flood in a high water event. The company withdrew its proposal in Chilliwack last spring.

The Chilliwack site was also to handle PCB waste, a known carcinogen, and other hazardous materials – which are not proposed at the Maple Ridge site.

Aevitas spokesman Joel Allman said the site in Maple Ridge is strategically located to service customers in the Lower Mainland. It will not be handling PCBs.

“It’s fairly innocuous material that you find in your garage in your mechanic’s workplace, in industrial settings for maintenance applications,” said Allman. “It has to be dealt with. We want to come in and deal with it properly.”

Allman said his company’s competitors incinerate products that Aevitas is recycling.

Maple Ridge councillors wanted assurance that the risk to the environment is acceptable, with Coun. Gordy Robson asking for a comprehensive risk assessment before considering the site.

Coun. Bob Masse asked about the future of the land where the company would be located.

“When you leave a site, are they deemed contaminated sites?” asked Masse.

Allman responded that the company will have a site-closure plan with a financial bond, so it must put up enough resources to remediate the site if necessary.

Masse also asked about site security, which would include a fenced perimeter with warning signs, surveillance cameras, and 24-hour security monitoring.

Mayor Nicole Read said councillors will ultimately decide the level of risk they are comfortable tolerating in considering the proposal, but she asked Allman for his perspective.

“I’m curious, from you, what you see as our risk as a community with your facility located in our midst,” she asked.

He answered that the company must follow Ministry of Environment requirements, and the property meets or exceeds their sighting requirements. All trucks transporting materials will have secondary containment, so he said the likelihood of a situation happening during transport is very low, he said.

The company is dealing with human and mechanical factors so there can be failures, but they have 20 years experience in the business, and have proper control measures and staff training in place to mitigate risks.

Coun. Craig Speirs said he will want to see how the proposed facility and equipment will respond to a major earthquake.

“We’ll get one sooner or later, and we had one a couple weeks ago,” said Speirs.

Allman said his company will hire a local engineering firm to design the facilities, with earthquakes taken into account.

The company would employ between 30 and 40 people.

The issue will be back before council on Jan. 26.

While he faced a lot of tough questions from councillors Allman said the first meeting went as expected.

“I thought it was actually positive,” he said.