Ehattesaht/Chinehkint opens remote recycling center for used oil and antifreeze

By Alexandra Mehl

Zeballos, BC- The Ehattesaht/Chinehkint First Nation has been working with BC Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA) to open a center so the remote community can recycle their used motor oil, oil filters, oil and antifreeze containers and antifreeze.

“We worked with the team at BC Used Oil Management Association to develop a facility that our community members could drop off used oil program materials easily and at no cost. This has been an important initiative for us,” said Ryan Foster, Ehattesaht Operations and Maintenance manager, in a press release.

In an interview with Ha-Shilth-Sa Foster said that in remote places such as Zeballos, residents would typically have to travel to places like Port Hardy or Campbell River to have access to oil and antifreeze recycling services. The distance makes it less likely for people to recycle, said Foster.

“Having this facility in the valley is a very environmentally responsible way of collecting that stuff here,” said Foster. “We [are] removing it from potentially escaping to the environment. And as well, we get to clean up our current facilities [and] make them safer.”

The opening of the recycling center will eliminate any possibility of these products making their way into the environment, said Foster.

Foster said that having the recycling center will also be beneficial for fishing tourism during the summer.

The facility is located on 601 Mainline Road in Zeballos, BC. With a grant from BC Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA), the Ehattesaht nation was provided with a 10-foot modified sea container, and a 1,100-litre intermediate tank where the recycling center now operates from.

Both Foster and his helper were trained by BCUOMA to identify the types of oils that can be recycled. The facility is now open by appointment only. This helps avoid any risk of contaminants in the collection drum, said Foster.

“[It] just all [came] together perfectly… It couldn't have happened in a better time,” said Foster. “Everybody involved was really positive and excited.”

British Columbia Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA), founded in 2003, provides easily accessible services to British Columbians to recycle used motor oil, antifreeze, oil filters, and oil and antifreeze containers.

In a press release Dave Lawes, CEO of BCUOMA, stated, “We’re proud to say that 98.9 per cent of B.C. residents currently have reasonable access to used oil recycling locations around the province.”

Lawes said that their goal is to have 100 per cent of British Columbians within a 15 to 30-minute drive from a BC Used Oil Recycling Centre.

According to the BCUOMA website, a total of 49,483,469 liters of oil was collected by BCUOMA in 2021.

Foster welcomes community members and nearby settlements such as Fair Harbour and Kyuquot to use their recycling facilities located in Zeballos.

“It's a really unique area, [and] a real sensitive area. So having really good oil collection, motor oil collection, antifreeze filters [and] containers, is super important,” said David Lawes.

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Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa