No leads in dumped asbestos case

There is no active investigation into the illegal dumping of bags of asbestos that was dumped in the Chilliwack River Valley.

  • Jun. 29, 2015 6:00 a.m.
Bags of discarded asbestos lie scattered just off Chilliwack Lake Road.

Bags of discarded asbestos lie scattered just off Chilliwack Lake Road.

A pile of asbestos that was dumped in the Chilliwack River Valley has been disposed of by the ministry of environment.

But there is no active investigation into the illegal dumping of the hazardous material, the MoE told The Progress via email.

“Conservation Officer Service received information about the dumped asbestos, but does not have an active investigation on this file as there are no clear suspects or witnesses,” the email states.

The asbestos was discovered earlier in June, near the entrance to Chipmunk Creek. It followed a discovery earlier this year of a dumped cabin cruiser style boat on a side road in the same valley. Since then, residents have increased vigilance and are actively watching for, recording and reporting all suspicious vehicles and activities in the area.

The ministry added that the COS is working with volunteer groups and local government to “to try and address the issue of illegal dumping in the Fraser Valley.”

They confirmed that ministry staff attended the site of the asbestos dump on June 17, and the Environment Emergency Response Officer inspected the contents of the bags. At least two dozen bags marked as containing asbestos, in the proper packaging disposal, were left at the roadside. The bags were removed on June 18 and disposed of.

Orion Engar, FVRD director for Area E, said it’s unfortunate the dumping can’t be traced more effectively, because “fines being levied would be a strong deterrent.”

But he is pleased with how quickly the ministry removed the materials.

“The RAPP conservation hotline works!” he said.

Poachers and polluters can be reported by calling 1-877-952-7277, or #7277 on a cell phone.

Asbestos is found in many buildings, as it was used in the past in insulation. It’s believed it’s not harmful until it’s disturbed and removal is undertaken by qualified professionals. Transporting asbestos and other hazardous materials requires a lengthy manifest process, and illegal transportation and dumping can lead to heavy fines and jail time.

Asbestos is a group of minerals with microscopic fibers, which if breathed in can become trapped in the lungs for many years. Asbestos exposure is commonly linked to lung disease, lung cancer, COPD, asbestosis and several other conditions.