Grand Forks flood clean-up generates mountains of waste

Now that the floodwaters have retreated, residents of Grand Forks and other B.C. communities are cleaning up the mess, and that's creating mountains of waste.

Clearing out 400 homes is expected to generate enough landfill waste to fill 26 Olympic swimming pools

A business owner in Grand Forks, B.C., clears out damaged wood after hundreds of homes and businesses in the B.C. community were affected by flooding earlier this month. (Bob Keating/CBC)

Now that the floodwaters have retreated, residents of Grand Forks and other B.C. communities are cleaning up the mess, and that's creating mountains of waste.

From soggy drywall and flooring, to fridges and freezers full of rotting meat, many homeowners and business owners have a lot to deal with.

In total, about 417 homes were damaged by floodwater in the Kootenay Boundary Regional District alone.

A flooded area of Grand Forks, B.C., is seen in an aerial view on Saturday May 12, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

That's going to generate about 67,000 cubic metres of waste — enough to fill about 26 Olympic swimming pools — and that estimate doesn't include affected businesses and other flood-affected areas such as Osoyoos and the Similkameen Valley.

The question for many is what to do with it all.

Frances Maika with the emergency operations centre says they've come up with a region-wide solution to get it safely to the landfills before it creates more problems.

Pick-up and drop-offs

"Probably this Thursday we'll have a front-end loader loading this stuff and in all likelihood we'll also have bins in neighbourhoods where there is a lot of material," said Maika.

If people can't wait for home or business pick-up, Chris Duffy with Emergency Services B.C. says landfills in the Boundary region will be free for people affected by the flooding.

Residents retrieve their belongings last week from the flooded Ruckle neighbourhood of Grand Forks, B.C. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"If you're taking something to a transfer site there will be validation of flood debris and weight and balance checks, but the homeowner won't pay for that," said Duffy.

At this point, he doesn't know how much the program will cost the government, but promises the pick-ups and free tipping will last as long as there is a need to dispose of high volumes of flood material.

If people already took a trip to the dump and have a receipt, they'll be reimbursed, he added.

Sorting and dumping locations

Officials are also asking people to sort their waste into several categories, including:

  • Clean wood.
  • Fridges and freezers.
  • Metal and other appliances.
  • Hazardous materials.
  • Damaged electronics.
  • Everything else.

More details on the curbside program are available from the regional district.

Boundary landfill locations:

  • Grand Forks Landfill (8798 Granby Rd., Grand Forks) — Class 1 landfill that takes construction waste
  • Christina Lake Transfer Station
  • Beaverdell Waste Transfer Station (5 km south of Beaverdell on Hwy. 33) 
  • West Boundary (Greenwood) Landfill (Deadwood Rd, 3 km from Hwy 3) — Class 1 landfill that takes construction waste
  • Rock Creek Transfer Station (1610 Rock Creek Dump Rd.)

Get more details on the free tipping program

With files from Bob Keating