Current Developments Related to the Richmond Landfill

November 4 | Posted by Jeff | The Leaky Land Blog

dump-air-1_1339114896212_o.jpgCurrently three separate processes are under way concerning the future of the Richmond landfill. The first is an Environmental Review Tribunal Appeal which addresses concerns associated with the closure, monitoring and remediation of the existing waste mound. The second is an Environmental Assessment which has been initiated by the site’s owner in an attempt to build another – much larger – landfill directly north of the existing one. The third is an Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Request for Review of legislation regulating the location of landfills in Ontario.
The first two processes are proceeding and I will not elaborate on them here except to say that much more will be made public in the months (and unfortunately probably years) ahead. The third process (the EBR Request for Review) has recently been responded to by the MOE.
The EBR application, submitted jointly by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and local concerned citizens asked for the applicable legislation to include two common-sense clauses, which were:
prohibit new or expanded landfill sites on fractured bedrock and other hydrogeologically unsuitable locations; and
prohibit proponents from re-applying for Environmental Protection Act approvals in relation to sites which had already been refused for hydrogeological reasons.
The MOE response was that there is no need for a review of this legislation because existing review processes already require them to ensure the site is safe before approval can be granted. However, even a cursory look at the history of landfill siting in Ontario shows megadumps located on similarly unsuitable locations which were approved following this process. Many (if not most) of these have caused significant environmental damage. Our own Richmond landfill experience is a perfect example and the full negative environmental impact for our communities will likely not be fully understood for years. Obviously existing legislation did not protect us when the Richmond landfill was massively expanded in 1988. How can we have confidence that this legislation will protect us in future without amendments such as those proposed in this application?
The MOE’s unacceptable response to this application is not likely to be the end of this initiative. I understand all the original applicants, as well as a large number of other communities and citizens groups in Ontario, are preparing to pursue this goal until these common-sense changes are adopted in law.

Ian Munro


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