Firefighters were called out to deal with barrels of potentially toxic sludge from a drug lab in the Glen Valley area of Abbotsford on Thursday afternoon.
Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service responded at 12: 45 p.m. after a work crew noticed a large number of barrels and buckets dumped in and along a ditch on Dyke Road.
As it was apparent the buckets contained drug-lab waste, the APD and AFRS sealed off the area and alerted local residents, said assistant fire chief Dave Rivett.
The dump was a large one, containing eight 45-gallon barrels, four 20-gallon drums and around a dozen five-gallon pails.
"From former experience, it's likely chemical sludge left over from a lab," Rivett said.
"It's usually a mix of corrosive and flammable materials."
The illegal disposal of waste from clandestine labs, usually producing crystal meth, is a serious issue, he added.
For every kilogram of product that is manufactured in a clandestine lab, approximately seven kilograms of hazardous waste is created.
Luckily, most of the containers were still sealed and no environmental damage occurred, Rivett said.
"There was nothing leaking and no vapours," he said.
"We went down with city engineering and tested the water [on Friday] and everything was OK."
Like the Thursday incident, those disposing of waste from drug labs often unload it in isolated surroundings.
"They usually dump this stuff in a rural area because they can unload without scrutiny," said Rivett, adding the problem was infrequent but not uncommon. Alternatively, and perhaps worse, drug-lab operators also drain the waste into storm sewers or the sewer system.
It's difficult to determine where the drug lab that created the waste might be located, said Rivett.
Firefighters remained on scene for about two and a half hours until the city's hazardous waste contractor arrived to remove the barrels for analysis and safe disposal. Rivett advised residents to never approach suspicious barrels or containers dumped along a roadside or in a rural area, as they might well contain hazardous materials.
"The best thing is to call 911 right away, and let us come down and evaluate it."