Devolin says township needs to do better at Scotch Line
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 20, 2017|
A special meeting of Minden Hills council to deal with a Provincial Officer’s Order over the Scotch Line landfill was heated when members of the gallery asked questions of council, staff and consultant Cambium Inc.
During the July 17 meeting, Cambium submitted a report on the circumstances leading to the order, a compliance action plan and its estimated budget. Council endorsed the plan and approved $29,190 for 2017. The overall cost is estimated at $156,000 with more money in the 2018 budget.
In its June 19 order against the township, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) expressed concerns about leachate, a large, uncovered pile of unprocessed construction and demolition waste, steep and uncovered landfill slopes and garbage in the woods.
Fixing the leachate problem is about half of all costs, and will require excavation, material removal, filter cloth installation, the addition of low permeable material and an access road. The steep construction and demolition pile will need tree cutting, bulldozing, cover, signage and berming (about $25,000). General operations will also need nearly $40,000 for bulldozing, survey, cover, an excavator, a consultant for a litter control plan and garbage pick-up by students.
Highlands Environmental, which provides landfill attendants at the site, was represented by its consultant, Brigitte Gall, a former Minden Hills councillor.
During public question time, Gall asked Cambium’s David Bucholtz, general manager and environmental services senior project manager, if he knew that three attendants worked at the landfill with an average of 400-600 vehicles per day.
On the remediation plan, she asked, “how will this be addressed with three staff at eight hours a day?” He did not reply but Reeve Brent Devolin said, “That is a conversation between council and the contracted consultant.”
Devolin continually pressed Gall to confine her comments to asking questions.
Coun. Jeanne Anthon said when she first heard about the order, she was shocked and angry. Referring to problems with the construction and demolition pile, she asked “how come that wasn’t highlighted for us?”
Bucholtz said it had been.
“Yes, the order was a shock to all of us,” Devolin said.
Bucholtz said nobody wants to get their wrists slapped by an order, but the question now is what will the township do to address it?
As far as the circumstances that led to the order, Bucholtz said there had been red and orange leachate seeps in recent years. They’re to the west and south of the waste mound, and flow at times, particularly in the spring. They’re contained within the site and there’s been no adverse off-site impacts. The seeps are monitored by Cambium and reported to the township annually, he said in one of his reports.
Up until now, Bucholtz said the MOECC has generally been satisfied with the township’s approach to the leachate issue. He said there had been remediation and operational works in the past. He said the issue is further addressed in the 25-year-plan for Scotch Line now before the MOECC for approval.
Bucholtz said the real problem occurred this spring with rain and flooding. It resulted in black leachate surfacing. This was partly due to the large pile of construction and demolition waste. The leachate flowed north and off-site to the Scotch Line Road ditches. This resulted in two MOECC site inspections that brought about the June 19 order.
Devolin said “our interest is to remedy these as soon as practically possible. The time has come. We do need to do better.”
He said there is a public appetite to raise the bar even if it means higher taxes.
Coun. Pam Sayne said the challenge is even greater due to climate change. She added there has to be more research and development to develop plans to attain zero waste targets in future.
At the end of the meeting, a member of the public asked Bucholtz about when leachate first appeared at Scotch Line and he said approximately eight years ago.
“You’ve now got an MOE order, which just didn’t happen all of a sudden because we had rain this spring,” the man said.
Devolin asked him what his question was and he replied, “I’m asking for some accountability … why wasn’t it acted upon when you first got the reports of a leachate problem eight years ago?”
Devolin replied that there had been action in the past and planned future action in the 25-year-plan.
“Why has the pile been allowed to get so large in the construction pile?” the man pressed.
Ivan Ingram, environmental and property operations manager for the township, turned to him and said it was for planned use as alternative daily cover.
The township must present its compliance action plan by Aug. 2 to the MOECC.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.