Investigation confirms contract violation at Penticton landfill

Allegation of improper salvaging first reported by media, but regional district not asking for compensation from contractor

The weigh station at the Campbell Mountain Landfill

The weigh station at the Campbell Mountain Landfill

A long-standing allegation that a contractor’s employee wrongfully took metal from the Penticton landfill has finally been validated.

“We’ve looked into it and we’ve found out that indeed there was some salvaging done back in 2010,” confirmed Bill Newell, the chief administrative officer of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

The Western News and CHBC News reported in July that a contracted employee at the Campbell Mountain Landfill admitted he took scrap metal from the site in late 2010. That violated the terms of the contract his company, SSG Holdings, has with the RDOS to operate the landfill.

That admission prompted the RDOS to investigate further, after an earlier internal probe and one conducted by the RCMP failed to substantiate the allegation.

“We’re satisfied that we caught the salvaging, that we addressed it with SSG, and that there hasn’t been any since. We’re satisfied with that,” Newell said.

The employee, Wayne Wedhorn, told the Western News he took the metal from the face of a garbage pile that was about to be buried, not from the scrap metal pile, material from which is sold by the RDOS.

“So they didn’t steal from us, but at the same time it was salvaging and that’s contrary to our contract,” Newell said.

SSG Holdings owner Lance Leger said in July that Wedhorn admitted in early 2011 to taking the metal, had a letter placed in his personnel pile, and that RDOS landfill supervisor Don Hamilton was notified.

However, Hamilton never relayed that information to his superiors, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request in relation to the ongoing complaints about the incident received by the RDOS as recently as this spring.

Hamilton didn’t respond to a request from comment Tuesday.

Newell suggested “there may be some confusion over dates,” and that he remains confident in Hamilton.

The value of the metal taken by Wedhorn was “minimal,” Newell said, and estimated at “less than $200.”

RDOS board chair Dan Ashton said SSG Holdings offered to make a donation to charity to reimburse the community for the lost metal revenue, but the board decided against it, partly because the dollar value involved was “ambiguous.”

“I’m very sure that SSG knows what transpired better not happen ever again,” Ashton said.

“I have zero tolerance for theft,” he added, “but it’s a board of 18.”

SSG Holdings did not return a call for comment Tuesday. The company this spring received a new, five-year contract to operate the landfill with Wedhorn as its site supervisor.