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B.C. drowned in the death of thousands of pigs Environment not at risk

B.C. drowned in the death of thousands of pigs Environment not at risk

Sumas Prairie was home to approximately 600,000 animals who died in November on Sumas Prairie.

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Thousands of pig carcasses that were drowned on a Fraser Valley farm in the last flood are now being made into compost at a Princeton facility. Their owner strongly denies that they pose a threat to our environment.

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The pigs, who were among 600,000 animals that had died on Sumas Prairie in November, were transported to the Net Zero Waste Eastgate facility 50 km west of Princeton in early Dec.

This attracted the attention of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band who sent staff to investigate.

A team of USIB natural resources staff visited the site on Dec. 10. They were shocked to discover what was believed to be thousands of dead and decomposing pig carcasses. Chief Bonnie Jacobsen sent a letter to Princeton, which was attached to Monday’s agenda package.

We found that leachate, contaminated water and dead animals were flowing from the facility to the Similkameen River.

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The company refutes that.

Mateo Ocejo, Net Zero Waste owner, stated in a telephone interview Wednesday that he wanted to make it clear that they are not polluting.

We have monitoring wells on our site.

But he does not deny that the scene was horrendous.

Ocejo, who is an engineer by trade, says that looking at thousands of dead pork in a pile will make it look like a horror movie.

He said that Net Zero Waste took the carcasses upon request from the B.C. The Agriculture Ministry and the City of Abbotsfords emergency operation centre were unable find any landfills or rendering facilities that would accept the carcasses as cleanup efforts began.

According to Ocejo, the carcasses arrived frozen in 17 truckloads. They were then placed on a concrete-lined pad. The carcasses were frozen until they could be mixed and covered with special roofing tarps. They are now in the process of decomposing.

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In two months, new organic material will be added to this mixture and left to compost for another one year before it is ready for sale.

Its a very unique situation. Ocejo stated that this is not a situation that will be repeated.

One of five Net Zero Wastes facilities in Eastgate was once used for mushroom compost production. However, the operation has been dormant since then.

Net Zero Waste, in partnership with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, was awarded a $4-million government grant in late 2019 to upgrade the facility so that it can receive food waste from around B.C.

Ocejo claimed that the upgrades were stalled because of COVID. However, Ocejo said that the facility had enough organic material to be able safely handle the pig carcasses.

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He plans to visit Eastgate on Friday and invites people who have concerns about the carcasses to take a look.

The USIB asked Princeton to withdraw its support for the facility and sent its investigators’ findings to the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

In a statement Wednesday, ministry officials confirmed that they had visited the site Dec. 21 in order to assess its compliance with the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation and the Environmental Management Act.

According to the statement, the investigators report will be made public within the next few days. The ministry is working with USIB to address the concerns of that group.

The statement concluded that the unprecedented effects of recent flood events are still evident. The impact on farmers is especially devastating. As we continue to respond, we expect all animal remains and animals to be treated with respect.

More Penticton Daily Herald news can be found here

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