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Few details unearthed in dumped carcass investigation

Posted on March 15, 2023 by Taber Times

By Trevor Busch

Taber Times

The remains of a cow carcass dumped illegally north of the Town of Taber Waste Transfer Station has been properly disposed of, but a municipal investigation revealed only scant details about how it might have got there.

On Feb. 13, council passed a motion put forward by Coun. Garth Bekkering requesting administration investigate the “disgraceful disposing of animal carcasses on Town property” near the dump.

According to administration, residents using the trail system north of the transfer station found some garbage bags with a cow carcass in them. The residents reported the carcass to the landfill manager, who instructed the landfill operator to gather the carcass up and bury it immediately. 

Under the Town’s approval to operate a landfill/transfer station this was the appropriate action as per the Code of Practice for Landfills.

The carcass was in an area outside of day-to-day operation of the landfill and staff would never have seen the carcass unless reported.

“I want to point out that where this was dumped, you can see this was definitely outside of our area of operations,” said public works director Gary Scherer at town council’s Feb. 27 meeting. “It was definitely hid from us, there’s no doubt about that. We don’t normally go over there by any means, at all, but it does fall under the approval for our landfill. I think the appropriate measures were done by Ms. DeBona (landfill manager).”

Bekkering inquired if there had been similar incidents in the past.

“We get about one animal carcass a year, and there again, we immediately bury it,” said Scherer.

The landfill is registered under Alberta Environment, and the Town has an approval to operate a landfill/transfer station. The landfill falls under legislation from Alberta Environment, Code of Practice for Landfills, which includes the guidelines for dead animals, “Operating Requirements – Section 7 – Subsection 5: Where a landfill accepts any of the following wastes, the person responsible shall include in the operations plan procedures for their special handling, as follows: (e) Dead animals or animal parts shall be immediately covered with soil.” 

Administration contacted Alberta Environment’s environmental protection officer, Jen Bitten, to verify burying of the animal carcass was the appropriate action, which was verified. 

“The Town’s practice is not to accept any cattle carcasses, but this was hidden in garbage bags unrecognizable to any of the landfill staff,” reads a statement from administration. “If any cattle carcasses come into the landfill, staff immediately inform the person they must take the carcasses to a rendering plant for disposal. Occasional roadkill is dropped off at the landfill.”

Mayor Andrew Prokop asked if the party responsible for dumping the carcass had accessed the location from private land. 

“It’s really hard to get to,” said Scherer. “Actually the only people that go there are CNRL to look at the well site. There’s no reason to go there other than to hide something. There is another access from the west. There’s a couple of other accesses that you might be able to get to if you cut some fence.”

The location is as secure as the Town can make it at this point, argued Scherer.

“That gate is locked up – we do want to point out we don’t know when this was dropped off, what time of day or weekend, we don’t know.”

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