Will repatriated garbage end up at Vancouver Landfill in Delta?

It’s been baking under the hot Philippines sun for the past six years and is now destined to come back, but no one is saying whether the repatriated garbage is heading to Delta.

It’s been recently reported the Canadian government has agreed to pay the full cost of bringing 69 garbage-laden shipping containers back to this country, containers that were originally shipped by a private company to a port near Manila in 2013 and 2014 and were improperly labelled as plastics for recycling. They instead contained household trash and sat in limbo while a diplomatic spat ensued between the two countries.

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Now it appears the trash, which reportedly contained such unpleasant items as used adult diapers, will finally be coming back to Canada, but no one at this point is saying if the ripened waste could be going straight to the Vancouver Landfill at Burns Bog.

Delta city manager Sean McGill told the Optimist the city has made inquiries but hasn’t got any answers.

“You know as much as I do. Delta has never been asked and never been told it’s going there. I don’t think it would be the logical choice,” said McGill.

“We have a tripartite agreement with the Vancouver Landfill, so we’d have to be informed or asked about it. We’ve been told it’s a Government of Canada issue and not been asked at any level about it going to the Vancouver Landfill,” he said.

Metro Vancouver would not comment on the issue, only saying it’s a diplomatic matter between the Philippines and Canada.

“This matter is being handled through the diplomatic channels of the two countries, so it is not within our purview to comment in any form. Any questions related to this waste material and how it might be handled should be referred to Environment Canada,” the regional district stated.

The provincial Ministry of Environment had a similar response.

“This is still a matter between the governments of Canada and the Philippines. Any questions about that diplomatic process are best sent to Global Affairs Canada. If the waste comes to B.C., negotiations would happen between Environment and Climate Change Canada and the owners/operators of waste-disposal facilities, some of which are run by local governments and some of which are private. Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for determining where best to dispose of this garbage,” the ministry stated.

The ministry also noted, “While the province does not operate waste disposal facilities, there are provincial controls in place to ensure it is disposed of appropriately. The facility receiving the waste would need to follow its own site-specific permit or operational certificate — which are written to protect the environment. Any questions related to this waste material, including its composition, should be referred to Environment and Climate Change Canada.”

As far as the federal response, a spokesperson with Environment and Climate Change Canada noted, “Canada remains committed to finalizing arrangements for the return of the waste to Canada for disposal. The Government of Canada has made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste and continues to be closely engaged with the Philippines to resolve the outstanding details, including legal and regulatory issues, to ensure the shipment’s return to Canada as quickly as possible.”

The spokesperson added they could not confirm an ultimate destination for the garbage. 

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to "declare war" on Canada if it didn't take back the trash. There’s been no word on what it will cost to ship it back.

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