Island waste facility to close

UBC will close a northern Vancouver Island composting facility because it no longer helps fulfil the mandate of the university or supports research and education.

Concerns regarding potential environmental impact also led to the decision to close the Pacific Bio-Waste Recovery Facility, located at UBC's Oyster River Research Farm near Campbell River. Closure of the facility by July 31 was recently approved by UBC's Board of Governors.

"The university has been a responsible citizen in proactively reducing environmental risk through the closure of the facility," said Mark Aston, manager of UBC's Environmental Programs.

The facility was built by a non-profit society whose members included the university, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Mount Washington Community Futures Committee and local fish processing and fish farming industries.

The facility combined fish waste and wood chips and then used state-of-the-art technologies to make compost. Use of the fish waste helped alleviate disposal problems for the local fisheries industry.

There are now several other fish waste compost facilities in the area, largely as a result of research done at the Oyster River facility, meaning the local fish processing industry will face minimal financial impact and disruption of operations.

A document presented to the board warned of the potential for adverse environmental impacts as a result of the composting operation. As joint permit holder and landowner, UBC could be found liable if the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks found the facility to be in violation of the waste management permit.

Closing the facility will have no financial impact on the university.