Media Release

Mohawks, Municipalities and Citizens Urge Ontario to Reject Proposed Landfill Expansion and to Commence Groundwater Investigation

Jun 05 2006

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ), local municipalities, and concerned citizens jointly held a Queen’s Park news conference today to urge the Ontario Government to reject the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill Site near Napanee, and to commence an investigation of groundwater impacts of the existing site. “For years, the site owner has claimed that the existing landfill has not impacted the groundwater quality off-site.  However, the site owner has recently refused to allow our consultants to perform on-site testing to verify these claims,” stated Chief R. Donald Maracle of the MBQ. “Therefore, in late March, our consultants drilled and sampled test holes just outside the landfill property boundary, and found evidence indicating that landfill leachate may have migrated off-site in the subsurface.  Based on this alarming finding, we demand that the proposed expansion be rejected, and that steps be taken to fully investigate the nature and extent of groundwater impacts at the site.” This demand is being made as Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) completes its Government Review of the Environmental Assessment (EA) filed by the site owner (Waste Management of Canada Corporation).  The site owner is seeking approval under the Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) for a 25 year, 18 million tonne expansion of the landfill (see below). “It is our opinion that the EA is incomplete, inadequate and deficient,” said Richard Lindgren, a CELA lawyer who represents local residents. “Similar views have been expressed by numerous other public and agency reviewers, including the MOE’s own technical reviewers, who have found that insufficient information has been provided by the proponent to substantiate the conclusions within the EA.”The Government Review is scheduled to end on June 9th, and will produce a report indicating whether the proponent’s EA is acceptable.  After the release of the Government Review report, the proponent and interested parties will have a time-limited opportunity to make final submissions before Environment Minister Laurel Broten decides whether the proposed landfill expansion should be approved or rejected. “We firmly believe that the proposed expansion must be rejected,” declared Margaret Walsh, Reeve of Tyendinaga Township. “In our view, the site’s characteristics – such as thin soils, fractured bedrock, vulnerable aquifer, complex groundwater flow, and close proximity to surface watercourses, farms and residences – make this location fundamentally unsuitable for landfilling purposes.”  For more information, please contact:Chief R. Donald Maracle (613-396-3424)Reeve Margaret Walsh (613-396-6021)Richard Lindgren (613-385-1686)Mayor Gordon Schemerhorn (613-354-3351)Clarence Zieman, Mayor of Deseronto andWarden of Hastings County (613-396-2440)  MEDIA BACKGROUNDER (JUNE 5, 2006) PROPOSED RICHMOND LANDFILL EXPANSION: THE VIEW OF TECHNICAL EXPERTS In November 2005, the proponent filed an EA that attempts to describe and evaluate its controversial proposal to significantly expand the Richmond Landfill Site.  Among other things, the proponent is proposing to:

  • dispose up to 750,000 tonnes/year of solid non-hazardous waste for the next 25 years from any municipality or industry in Ontario;
  •  accept up to 250,000 tonnes/year of hydrocarbon-contaminated soils to be used as “cover material” at the site;
  •  undertake an unprecedented 10-year project to excavate, process, stockpile and re-bury the nearly 3 million tonnes of waste already buried at the existing landfill; and
  •  establish an on-site plantation of poplar trees for the long-term treatment of leachate collected from the site over its centuries-long contaminating lifespan.

Since November 2005, the MOE has received literally thousands of submissions from agencies, local municipalities, citizens’ groups and individuals.  These submissions have raised numerous concerns about the inadequacy of the EA and the unacceptability of the proposed expansion.   In addition, local and county councils have passed resolutions opposing the proposed landfill expansion. Moreover, various technical experts for the MBQ, citizens’ groups, and local, provincial and federal levels of government have identified fundamental problems with the EA and the proposed landfill expansion.  In fact, as described below, the overwhelming weight of professional expertise is aligned against EA approval of the proposed landfill expansion: “My overall conclusion is as result unchanged and remains that the EA and its supporting documents, and in particular, the hydrogeological and hydrological components are deficient and in their current form should not even be considered for approval by the MOE.  In addition, there is an urgent need for the MOE to get to work on having the proponent investigate and address the salinization which seems to be developing downgradient of the existing landfill and to ensure that off-site groundwater and surface water resources are protected.”    - Wilf Ruland, P.Geo. (May 23, 2006) “It is XCG’s opinion that the hydrogeological investigations completed by WM have not been adequate…XCG has findings from a January 30, 2004 report and a May 24, 2006 report that indicate that there is a high probability that leachate impacts have occurred beyond the Richmond Landfill property boundary.”    - XCG Consultants Ltd. (May 23, 2006) “Thus, ORTECH reaffirms its previous view that the EA Report does not provide adequate information, at a sufficient level of detail, to explain or substantiate WM’s conclusions regarding air quality baseline conditions and potential impacts associated with the proposed expansion.  This is particularly true in relation to the reclamation proposal, which has the potential to cause significant off-site impacts (e.g. odour) for an extended period of time (e.g. 10 years).    - Hank Van Bakel, P.Eng. (May 18, 2006) “In summary, the EA and its supporting documents do not adequately describe or assess human health baseline conditions… In addition, the EA and supporting documents do not adequately investigate and evaluate the full range of potential human health impacts associated with the proposed expansion.  Therefore, on the basis of the information submitted in the EA and supporting documents, it cannot be concluded that the proposed expansion will not pose health risks to area residents and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.”      - P.G. Forkert, Ph.D. (May 17, 2006) “From our review of the hydrogeologic information provided in the EA, it is questioned whether there is adequate understanding of the hydrogeologic conditions at this site.  Such understanding is required to develop a suitable groundwater monitoring program and to be able to predict the fate of contaminants should a spill or leak of leachate occur… Due to the large variability inherent of fractured bedrock aquifers, there may not be adequate information to understand this complex setting.”    - Quinte Conservation (January 18, 2006) “Information presented to date has not demonstrated a sufficient understanding of the sources of groundwater discharge to the creek in the landfill area, or an adequate assessment of possible related environmental effects...  To date, there is insufficient information for determining the potential for transboundary air quality effects of the project on the MBQ reserve.”    - Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (April 13, 2006)   “I do not conclude that groundwater flow at this site is sufficiently well understood to predict the effects of an accidental leachate release… I maintain my opinion that the quantity and fate of leachate entering the subsurface throughout this site’s operational history must be determined.  An objective assessment of the environmental risk posed by existing site conditions cannot be considered complete without addressing this matter… I maintain that the effectiveness of the existing monitoring network in this fractured rock environment is questionable… To evaluate contingencies, the characteristics and extent of major fracture features must be presented in greater detail than is provided… I am unable to conclude that the extent of subsurface gas migration has been adequately delineated.”    - Shawn Kinney, MOE regional hydrogeologist (May 19, 2006)  “The proposal has some technical shortcomings which lead me to conclude that the air quality impact is being underestimated… The proponent admits that adverse effects will be caused by contaminants released from the facility as proposed.  The current submission could not be granted a Certificate of Approval under S.9 of the EPA.  The Ministry of the Environment does not grant approval for non-compliant operations… The adverse effects are expected to be larger than reported, and will occur more frequently.”    - Michael Ladouceur, MOE air scientist (January 16, 2006)  “Overall, we continue to find the Richmond Landfill Expansion EA to be deficient in relation to the EA Act, the Terms of Reference, and best practice in Ontario.  There remain gaps in environmental baseline data (air quality, hydrogeology, natural environment, economic, transportation), predicted exceedances of health-based criteria [and] uncertainty about risks to human health...”    - Napanee Peer Review Team (May 2, 2006)- 30 -