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B.C. was the drowning place for thousands of pigs. Environment not at risk

B.C. was the drowning place for thousands of pigs. Environment not at risk

Sumas Prairie’s late November death of 600,000 animals left the pigs among them

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The carcasses of thousands of pigs that drowned at Fraser Valley farms during the flood of last year are being made into compost at a Princeton facility. The owner strongly denies any allegations that the carcasses pose a threat the 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.

Chief Bonnie Jacobsen, a USIB natural resource team, visited the site Dec. 10 and were shocked to see what could be thousands of decomposing pig carcasses. This letter was attached to the agenda package to Monday’s council meeting.

We discovered that the facility was leaking contaminated water and leachate into the Similkameen River area. This led to a large number of dead animals.

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The company refutes that.

Mateo Ocejo, Net Zero Waste owner said in a telephone interview Wednesday that she wanted to make it very clear that we aren’t polluting.

We have monitoring wells available right on our website.

He doesn’t deny that the scene was horrific.

Ocejo, an engineer by trade, stated that if you look at thousands upon thousands of dead pigs, it will look like a horror film.

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. The carcasses were frozen until mixed with organic material and covered in special tarps, which allowed them to begin decomposing.

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The finished product will be ready to sell for agricultural purposes in about two months.

Its a very unique situation. Ocejo said that it is not something that will continue.

One of five Net Zero Wastes facilities located in Eastgate, this facility was once used to make mushroom compost. The operation went bankrupt several years ago.

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 stated that although the upgrades were stalled due to COVID, the facility had enough organic material on-site to 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, who asked Princeton to end its support for this facility, sent its investigators’ findings and recommendations to the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

In a statement Wednesday, the ministry said that its staff visited the site Dec. 21, to assess compliance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMR).

According to the statement the report of the investigators should be made public in the coming days. The ministry also stated that it is working with the USIB on the group’s concerns.

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

You can read more Penticton Daily Herald news by clicking here

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