Press Release - Resolution of environmental charges related to Whitecourt Regional Solid Waste Management Authority
The Town of Whitecourt (Town), and Woodlands County (County), as the joint operators of the Whitecourt Regional Solid Waste Management Authority (Authority), were each issued penalties pursuant to an offence under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The penalties resulted from charges pertaining to environmental upgrades initiated at the Whitecourt Regional Landfill in 2016 to extend the lifespan and capacity of the facility.
The Authority began work on the Whitecourt Regional Landfill Environmental Upgrades Project in 2015. The project, which will be completed in six phases, includes the development of new cells and a new leachate collection system which will extend the lifespan of the facility by 39 years. After identifying and resolving the process and communication issues which led to the charges in question, the Authority worked with Alberta Environment to amend the project approval, and successfully completed Phase 1 of the upgrades project in 2017. The Authority takes protection of the environment seriously and took immediate steps to improve its procedures to guard against the possibility of future issues arising. In addition, the Authority worked with Alberta Environment approval staff on the completion of the project to incorporate elements that meet or exceed current best practices, while ensuring the environment was protected at all times.
As part of the resolution, the Town and County proposed that a significant portion of the penalty imposed should provide a direct public benefit. It has been agreed that the Town and County will collectively contribute $80,000 towards an innovative phytoremediation research project being conducted by Innotech Alberta Inc. that will impact future enhancements at all Alberta landfills, including the regional facility. InnoTech will be researching whether the planting of trees and vegetation on or around landfill cells can be used to reduce the amount of landfill leachate from the cells. It is currently intended that the results of the project will be incorporated into the Whitecourt Regional Landfill’s operations, and will provide a more cost effective process to treat leachate on site. The Town and County will also collectively contribute $15,000 for training landfill managers on leachate management, in addition to fines imposed on each of the Town and County that total $5,000 under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
The Town, County, and Authority will all continue to work to meet the public’s expectations that operations meet the highest standards of compliance and environmental protection are met.