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The rural area of the Chilliwack River Valley in BC, Canada recently received a highly toxic drop off of 12 bags of asbestos. A resident member of the Citizens on Patrol found the bags near the Ford Mountain Prison on Chilliwack Lake Road.
Asbestos is classified as a serious carcinogen known to cause mesothelioma cancer, especially in the lungs. Currently, asbestos exposure is the top on-the-job killer in Canada with about 5,000 deaths attributed to the toxin since 1996.
The hazardous material was professionally bagged in the proper thick, plastic sealed material. According to the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in Canada, manifests are required for moving asbestos and it needs to be registered with them so the transport can be tracked.
Canada has a long-standing history involving asbestos that has continued into the present. The country was once the world's top producer of asbestos with most exports going to Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. About five years ago, nearly 100,000 tons were still produced in Quebec.
The last two asbestos mines in Canada stopped production in 2011 and a $58 million loan was in the works to reopen the mines with government backing, but government official Pauline Marios recognized the dangers of asbestos, and vowed to put the money toward diversifying employment in the region instead.
Last year, Canada imported $6 million worth of asbestos products, up from $4.9 million the previous year. Importation has increased as the country continues to utilize the toxic substance.
This year, Canada did not oppose the inclusion of asbestos at the Rotterdam Convention, a multilateral treaty that is intended to protect people in developing countries from imported hazardous substances.
In both the U.S. and Canada, asbestos abatement and disposal has numerous laws to abide by. The closest landfill at Chilliwack does not allow asbestos, but the next closest Vancouver landfill does accept it. The cost is around $200 for anything below one ton.
The dumping of asbestos without meeting requirements of the MoE, under the Environmental Management Act and its Hazardous Waste Regulation, is considered an offense. This can lead to a fine or prison time.
“Chilliwack River Valley Citizens on Patrol members are now out actively taking license plate numbers and reporting all suspicious activity,” said the area’s Director Orion Engar who phoned the resident’s phone call to the Conservation Hotline and sent out the police officer to confirm the asbestos.
Although there may not be enough evidence to figure out who dumped the bags, locals have increased their observing and reporting of suspicious behavior since the incident.