Response to Waste Management’s Open Letter Advertisement of May 31, 2012

June 5 | Posted by Jeff | Letters & Comments

While we understand you and your company must realize that there will be public scrutiny of  your stewardship of the closed Richmond Landfill, we would like to remind you that we already have copies of most of the   correspondence between you and the Ministry of the Environment. In fact most of this material is now in the public domain.

One of the documents we have which was issued by the MOE on Sept 30, 2010 is Condition 35 of your Certificate of Approval which orders you to close the Landfill by June 30, 2011.  The complete order can be viewed here(pdf). It states:

‘ The Owner shall ensure that no waste is received for disposal at the Site after June 30, 2011 and the site is capped with final cover material in accordance with the timelines presented below.’

Given that this order has been issued, Randy, we were surprised that you would state in your open letter to the public:

‘The Ministry of the Environment did not order the closure of our landfill’

As part of our request for an Environmental Tribunal Review of the monitoring of the closed landfill, we have affidavits from Waste Management and the MOE. In his affidavit sworn on Feb 17, 2012, Kyle Stephenson, MOE Hydrogeologist states:

‘The current work includes an assessment of impacts identified directly south of the landfill in the area of a particular group of domestic wells. These wells have been included in the monitoring program. In addition to sampling these wells in an ongoing monitoring program, the ministry has also required provision of bottled water or whole house water supplies.

Given that the MOE has required you to provide the water supply we are surprised that you imply that you have voluntarily done so.

In the same letter ad you claim:

‘At Waste Management, we believe it is essential that we are open and transparent with the community..’

This reminds us that your company refused to make public their recent Financial Assurance Calculations for the Richmond Landfill on the grounds that they contained ‘competitive information’. We were only able to obtain this information from the MOE through a formal Freedom Of Information request.
What we found when we finally accessed their calculations was that the company had reduced the contamination life span from 300 years (their own calculation in the previous EA) to 39 years. There was no explanation offered for the change. This had the effect of reducing the Financial Assurance funding that is required by law for the operator to set aside (among other things) to fund future remediation efforts (if required).

We are very disappointed that you were not entirely open and transparent in the public letter that you posted in the local Napanee papers (with statements that contradict the public record).  It certainly raises questions about other claims made by Waste Management.

None of this inspires confidence in your ability to manage the well-documented risks of landfilling here.  The first important step to risk management is to truthfully acknowledge that the risks exist.

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