ERT Decision Supports Concerned Citizens vs Waste Management

January 6 | Posted by Jeff | The Leaky Land Blog

Dump from Napanee Zoom smallIn its detailed decision dated December 24, 2015, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has ordered the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to impose significant improvements to Waste Management’s (WM) Environmental Monitoring Plan (EMP) for the now-closed Richmond Landfill located in Greater Napanee, Ontario. The ERT has also ordered a much stricter leachate detection regime. Full text of the decision is available at ERT Decision Dec 24 2015

The Tribunal process was initiated by an appeal filed in 2012 by the Concerned Citizens. 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.

In its decision, the ERT allowed the Concerned Citizens’ appeal and found that:

• The hydrogeological complexity of the site makes groundwater monitoring extremely difficult;
• The chemical 1,4-dioxane is the best indicator of leachate impacts for this site;
• The landfill is contaminating groundwater beyond the landfill boundary;
• Private domestic wells have been contaminated, and WM shall continue to provide alternative water supplies to the affected residences if occupied;
• Leachate contamination of groundwater extends hundreds of meters from the landfill footprint, and currently underlies public and private properties south of the landfill;
• 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.

Other key findings 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.

Ian Munro, Chairman of the Concerned Citizens, said: “While this decision effectively supports every important recommendation we have made, it is regrettable that a group of citizens must organize and fund this work to protect our local environment. Over the years, our citizens’ group has been forced to raise and expend significant funds pursuing our concerns because, in our opinion, both WM and the MOECC unjustifiably rejected recommendations made by the Concerned Citizens and their experts. I am gratified that these recommendations have now been imposed by the ERT in a legally binding decision at the conclusion of this appeal process. Concerned Citizens would like to thank our team of experts including Wilf Ruland (hydrogeology) and Dr. Poh-Gek Forkert (toxicology), our CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren, our tireless volunteers and all who have supported us in these efforts over many years.

Concerned Citizens’ hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland indicated that the ERT decision confirmed that WM was responsible for the massive off-site contamination caused by the Richmond Landfill, and for the very challenging task of trying to track the off-site contamination in the complex and highly unpredictable groundwater flow system.  Mr. Ruland went on to state that “the job of determining how far off-site the contamination has gone is far from complete, with the actual extent of the leachate plume still unknown.”

“The ERT decision wholly vindicates my client’s long-standing concerns about groundwater contamination emanating from the Richmond Landfill Site,” said Richard Lindgren, lawyer for the Concerned Citizens. “In addition, it is my view that the Tribunal’s findings make it abundantly clear that this fractured bedrock setting is unsuitable for the massive Beechwood Road Environmental Centre (BREC) landfill being proposed by WM beside the Richmond Landfill.”

“The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte share many of the Concerned Citizens’ concerns”, said Chief Don Maracle. “At the same time, as an independent First Nation government, the cost of these proceedings has had to be taken from funds badly needed for the operation of our community and the well-being of our residents. 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.”

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