The Toronto Star recently revealed that Vaughan city officials were working with the owner of a waste transfer station to reduce an illegal mountain of construction debris before it caught fire on October 12, 2004.
Smoke spewed for days over Vaughan neighbourhoods after piles of construction waste and demolition debris that had built up over a year at the 310-Waste Ltd. site suddenly caught fire in five separate spots.
Vaughan Deputy Fire Chief Greg Senay says the cause of the fire is likely internal combustion caused by densely packed material. The waste was packed so tight it may have generated heat, but officials are still investigating to confirm the exact source of the fire.
310-Waste is licensed to store a maximum of 1,500 tonnes of waste at its indoor transfer station before moving it offsite to a disposal facility. However, reportedly the 12-hectare property currently holds 8,000 tonnes of waste in piles. The facility, which is located immediately west of the closed Keele Valley landfill site, charges $80 a tonne to accept construction and demolition waste.
As debris started to accumulate in outdoor piles around the transfer station in the spring, the city met with environment ministry officials to plot a response. But 310-Waste owner Robert Sansone said the region’s booming construction industry, combined with truck delays at the Michigan border, made it difficult to move the waste off his site fast enough.
The ministry charged 310-Waste in May with failing to comply with an order to abide by the conditions of its operating licence, which requires it to store waste indoors. In July, the city issued a notice that the company was in violation of a zoning bylaw requiring it to store the waste indoors. But the city did not lay charges itself because it wanted to see whether the company could reduced the piles.
The company is currently facing six charges under the Environmental Protection Act for failing to abide by conditions of its operating licence.
On October 13, an environment ministry air quality monitoring truck was stationed in a nearby subdivision. The ministry detected five contaminants common to household fires, including acetone and carbon monoxide. Although the smoke is not considered dangerous to human health, residents were advised to close their windows and stay indoors. The ministry doesn’t expect any major problems as there is reportedly no hazardous waste at the site.