Belleville Intelligencer Reports on Tribunal Decision

January 9 | Posted by Jeff | News, The Leaky Land Blog

Intel picBy Emily Mountney-Lessard, The Intelligencer

Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

An Environmental Review Tribunal has ordered improvements on the Richmond Landfill in Greater Napanee be imposed.
In the lengthy decision, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has ordered the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to impose significant improvements to Waste Management’s Environmental Monitoring Plan (EMP) for the now-closed Richmond Landfill.
Following days of testimony and evidence in the spring of 2015, the ERT released a decision on Dec. 24 outlining its findings and recommendations.
The tribunal process was initiated by an appeal filed in 2012 by the Concerned Citizens group. In the spring and summer of 2015, the tribunal held weeks of public hearings which enabled the parties (Concerned Citizens, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Napanee Green Lights, WM and MOECC) to present factual, technical and scientific evidence regarding the Richmond Landfill and its off-site impacts.
The ERT found the landfill is contaminating groundwater beyond the boundary of the landfill and private, domestic wells have been contaminated. Waste Management will continue to provide alternative water supplies to the affected residences if occupied.
According to the ERT, the hydrogeological complexity of the site makes groundwater monitoring extremely difficult and the chemical 1,4-dioxane is the best indicator of leachate impacts for this site.
“The conclusions were that we’ve been right all along,” said Concerned Citizens chairman Ian Munro Wednesday afternoon. “I wonder where we’d be if we hadn’t been nipping at everyone’s heels all these years.”
The review document states there is evidence of leachate-contaminated groundwater in certain monitoring wells to the north and northwest of the landfill footprint and to the south and southeast of the landfill footprint extending to south of Beechwood Road. There is evidence that suggests an emerging concern there may be contaminated groundwater to the east of the site, north of Beechwood Road.
Further, contingency action is needed to bring the site into compliance with regulatory requirements; and a strict 1µg/l limit for 1,4-dioxane shall be used to determine how far off-site the leachate plume has spread.
The fight against the landfill has been ongoing for years and has taken huge amounts of work, effort and money by community members. “We’d probably have a much, much, much bigger landfill out there that would have been approved years ago. That was rejected in large measure because of our efforts,” said Munro.
He said without the efforts of concerned citizens and other groups involved, the current tribunal would have never happened.
“All the information that has come out as a result of that being made public shows that this landfill has been totally, incompetently monitored for many years.
“What we’ve learned now should have been known 20 years ago or 15 years ago at the minimum and we’re only just getting there now. It’s appalling. It’s taken all this effort on the part of the public and the local community to get the company and the ministry to do the job they should have done years ago.”
Munro first got involved with the group in 2003 and said these processes have been “absolutely time frustrating, time consuming and expensive.”
It is estimated the group has spent at least $200,000 since the late 1990s on fighting the expansions at the Richmond Landfill.
But there’s more work to do. In this tribunal, there is one step to be completed. He said the tribunal has directed all involved parties to provide agreed-upon wording for the implementation of the environmental compliance approval.
“It has to be formalized in writing and put into the licence, basically.”
That step should happen in the month or two, he said.
Apart from the current threat of the existing landfill, Munro said another proposal by Waste Management “to put, basically, four more of those landfills right beside it” is “looming” above the communities.
“That proposal is still on the books. We think this process has demonstrated that they cannot monitor this site adequately, so, what are they thinking?”
That proposal, for the “Beechwood Road Environmental Centre” was initially introduced around 2010 and the terms of reference for that project were ultimately approved in 2012.
Information regarding the project, on the Ministry of Environment website, states the proposed undertaking includes a new secure engineered landfill on a new footprint located north or northeast of the current Richmond Landfill. The new landfill is one component of the proposed Beechwood Road Environmental Centre, which is an integrated waste management facility comprising residential diversion, materials recycling, organics processing, construction and demolition and electronic waste handling facilities. The new landfill footprint is expected to have a total capacity of about 13 million cubic metres. It will include a liner system, leachate collection and landfill gas collection systems.
“It’s just a looming threat that’s sitting there, we’re well aware it’s potentially coming,” he said. “It’s ridiculous and totally irresponsible.”
Mike Bossio, MP for the Hastings, Lennonx and Addington riding, said he was gratified the tribunal has recognized the challenges of the site.
He served as the chairman of the group for several years but stepped back once elected as MP last year.
“All of this stuff could have been done a long time ago, if Waste Management and Ministry of Environment were doing their job.
“I’m gratified, and I’m hopeful that we are going to finally get to the bottom of this and determine the full extent of the contamination and the monitoring plan will finally have some teeth in it.”
Both Bossio and Munro lauded the efforts of the citizens’ group, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and the Napanee Green Lights group.
“I am just so proud of the Concerned Citizens group and the incredible work they have done. It really is a sad state when we have to rely on a small community organization to fund a fight like this and let alone fight the fight in the first place,” Bossio said. “This really was unnecessary. If the company and MOE were doing their jobs we wouldn’t have to do it for them.”
Bossio, too, is concerned about the Beechwood Road Environmental Centre and said the site is unsuitable for a landfill.
“One of the most unsuitable sites for a landfill in all of Ontario, so put an end to it. There’s no reason that our community should have to go through this.”
Chief Don Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte made a similar statement, saying, “We are very pleased with some of the outcomes of the hearing, but very disturbed at the financial burden on our community and others. We hope the environmental protection will continue, but that the cost will ultimately be borne by the company responsible for these problems, Waste Management.”
Other key findings of the ERT include the former Lewis Meats abattoir is not a significant source of contaminants in groundwater, contrary to WM assertions; the full geographic extent of the leachate plume has not been fully delineated by WM despite extensive fieldwork; the farm property southeast of the landfill requires further investigation for groundwater impacts; testing of private wells every two years along Belleville Road is ordered; a study into the potential impact of existing and proposed pipelines south of the landfill has been ordered; and use of a blast trench as a contingency option has been eliminated from the EMP.

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