Landfill 'out of compliance' in weeks before fire, judge told

The Owl Road landfill in Valleyview was deemed "out of compliance" by government inspectors in the weeks before a large fire broke out, a judge was told Monday.

Daniel Ambrosi, as well as his company, are each charged with three offences under provincial waste management legislation stemming from a June 20, 2007, fire that blanketed portions of Valleyview with thick black smoke.

The fire burned out of control for several hours and smouldered for days.

The Crown alleges Ambrosi failed to comply with several conditions of his permit to operate the landfill.

Frank Rhebergen, a Ministry of Environment protection officer in Kamloops, said he inspected the dump on March 29, 2007, and deemed the operation was out of compliance.

The main concern was the fact a portion of the landfill had not been covered with dirt for at least four weeks, when the permit requires construction waste to be covered every five days.

Prosecutor Joel Gold asked the officer why garbage needs to be covered. Rhebergen said covering waste keeps animals and insects away, prevents litter from flying about and protects against fire.

As well, Rhebergen said he saw a large pile of what appeared to be residential garbage, which included large amounts of organic waste.

Ambrosi is not allowed to accept such garbage at the Owl Road facility. A special dumpster was set up there to hold food waste until it could be transported to the City's landfill, Rhebergen said.

The dumpster did not look like it had been used for weeks.

Another big concern for the ministry was the fact Ambrosi had not filed an annual report or financial statements for his operation since 2002.

Those reports are important because they allow the government to determine issues such as the landfill's lifespan. The financial reports show how much money is being spent to provide for closing costs when the landfill is full.

"Dan's position is he will not submit an annual report until the ministry proves to him that all other landfill operators are required to do the same things he is required to do.

"Dan has reminded me of that on several occasions at least," Rhebergen said.

The fire started in a pile of construction waste, mostly veneer, roofing shingles and tarpaper. It later burned into a pile of creosote-soaked wood, which produced thick black smoke.

"You could see (smoke from the fire) from the office," he said. "I got a vehicle and a camera and I headed out."

Earlier in the trial, Gregory Marsh, an employee at the landfill at the time, said he was operating heavy equipment when he saw the fire break out.

It took only a minute or two before it blew up out of control, he said.

"It was incredibly windy that day," he said. "I had to get the machine out of there, I had fire on either side of me."

The trial before Judge Chris Cleaveley continues today. Ambrosi is representing himself at the proceeding.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News