Media Release

Environmental Review Tribunal Gives Green Light to Residents' Appeal Against Amended Approval for Richmond Landfill Site

Apr 02 2012

Toronto - Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal has granted the Concerned Citizens Committee of Tyendinaga and Environs (CCCTE) the right to appeal various conditions contained in the current site licence for the Richmond Landfill located near Napanee, Ontario.

In January 2012, the Ministry of the Environment re-issued the site licence under the Environmental Protection Act to impose new conditions upon the landfill owner (Waste Management of Canada Corporation) in relation to environmental monitoring, contingency plans, and reporting at the now-closed landfill. The CCCTE then applied to the Tribunal for leave (permission) to appeal seven of these conditions on the grounds that they were inadequate to protect the environment.

In its decision (linked PDF file below) dated March 30, 2012, the Tribunal agreed with the CCCTE that the conditions appeared to be unreasonable and insufficiently protective of the environment:

“The Tribunal finds that it appears there is good reason to believe that no reasonable person, having regard to relevant law and government policies, could have made the decision to issue the Environmental Compliance Approval to Waste Management of Canada Corporation, and that it appears that the decision in respect of which an Appeal is sought could result in significant harm to the environment, within the meaning of section 41 of the Environmental Bill of Rights (p.19).”

In reaching this conclusion, the Tribunal relied upon the Ministry’s acknowledgement of “the potential that the landfill may be causing contamination of groundwater” (page 13). The Tribunal also relied upon the Ministry’s hydrogeologist who interpreted recent data as indicating that “apparent landfill-related groundwater impacts” exist to the north and south of the waste fill area, and that “leachate is potentially extending off-site to the south of the landfill property (p.11).”

The Tribunal further noted:

“The Director asserts that the Ministry has assumed a worst-case scenario and has therefore required Waste Management of Canada Corporation to supply neighbouring residents with an alternate supply of water. The Tribunal finds that provision of alternative sources of drinking water, while appropriate, does not mitigate environmental harm. It may alleviate the effects of ecosystem impacts upon local residents, but it does not remedy the occurrence or severity of those impacts upon ecosystems (p.15).”

The Tribunal’s decision therefore allows the CCCTE to file a Notice of Appeal against the Director’s decision within the next two weeks.

“My client is pleased that the Tribunal has granted leave to appeal in this case,” stated Richard Lindgren, an environmental lawyer who represents the CCCTE. “We look forward to participating in the Tribunal’s hearings in order to present my client’s groundwater, surface water, and air quality concerns.”

“In our view, the highest priority is to ensure robust monitoring and effective contingency plans at the closed Richmond Landfill,” said Mike Bossio, Chairperson of the CCCTE. “In these circumstances, our group believes that it is premature and unacceptable for Waste Management to proceed with an environmental assessment for another new mega-landfill immediately beside the Richmond Landfill.”

At this time, it is unknown when the Tribunal will hold the appeal hearing in 2012. Once the hearing has been completed, the Tribunal will render a legally enforceable decision in relation to the conditions under appeal. In this case, the Tribunal has the authority to alter or revoke the Director’s decision, or to issue an order directing the Director to take such action as the Tribunal may specify in relation to this matter.

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For more information, please contact:
Richard Lindgren (CELA) 613-385-1686
Mike Bossio (CCCTE) 613-396-6784

download full text of the ERT March 30, 2012 Decision below

Download PDF file