Coquitlam environmental consultancy company given second warning by Ministry of Environment over waste storage

The entrance to SafeVac’s Coquitlam facility on May 17. Ministry of Environment photo

A company has been given its second warning by the province for allowing waste material to possibly seep into the ground at their Coquitlam facility.

SafeVac Environmental Services Ltd. was found to be out of compliance with the Environmental Management act during an on-site inspection on Nov. 28, 2022.

The facility collects, handles, and stores waste material from hydro-vac trucks originating from utility jobs.

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“The lack of asphalt or impermeable surfaces at the facility allows leachate and/or effluent from the waste material to infiltrate into the ground which is considered an introduction of waste into the environment,” wrote the Ministry of Environment inspection officers.

The company was issued a warning for the same offence in May.

During the November inspection, officers saw large piles of waste materials that were left partially uncovered, an uncovered pile next to a de-watering pit which had been filled, along with numerous other smaller piles also left uncovered.

No asphalt surface was in place below the piles of waste, which would have prevented effluent waste from leaching into the ground.

Company representatives informed the officers they were no longer accepting additional waste  unloaded from hydro-vac trucks, but were storing the waste from previous jobs until it could be used as pre-load material in the future construction projects.

SafeVac’s president later told the officers that the piles had not been tested for contamination, but assured them the piles would be covered until testing can occur over the next year.

No effluent was observed leaving the facility during a perimeter inspection.

View of a partially covered waste stockpile at the facility on Nov. 22. Ministry of Environment photo

The ministry was first made aware of potential infractions on May 3, 2022, after they received a complaint pertaining to large piles of hydro-vac waste being stored without any containment.

During an inspection on May 17, officers saw numerous stockpiles of solid waste, a pit containing liquid-waste at capacity, and liquid waste accumulating on the ground at depths of up to 30 centimetres in some locations.

Effluent was seen discharging into the environment from the southeast corner of the property.

Environmental regulators follow escalating enforcement procedures, meaning if non-compliance continues, the company could be subjected to heavier penalties.

Convictions top out at fines not exceeding $1 million, or imprisonment of up to six months. 

The company has now been prioritized for follow-up inspections, and were told to immediately implement changes, and notify the ministry within 30 days.

A liquid waste storage facility at the facility on May 17. Ministry of Environment photo

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