Province tells Minden to clean up its act
Order issued for Scotch Line landfill
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor (With files from Alex Coop) | July 6, 2017|
The Township of Minden Hills has been told to clean up its act at the Scotch Line landfill.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) issued the municipality a Provincial Officer’s Order on June 19, giving it until Aug. 2 to submit a plan to rectify a number of suspected violations and offences.
The order is posted at the township office at 7 Milne St., but its accompanying provincial officer’s report and a report from a surface water specialist are not. These have been obtained by The Highlander.
According to these additional reports, leachate, both in and outside of the landfill’s current footprint, is a concern.
Leachate is water that has travelled through a solid and leached out some of its contaminants.
Cambium Inc., which consults to the township, noted leachate and other issues in its annual monitoring report to council in late April.
The order came after MOECC staff visited the landfill May 17 and June 7. In addition to leachate, they found improper material, such as plastics and upholstered furniture, in the construction and demolition pile. That pile is chipped to be used for alternative daily cover. However, these items are not approved for daily cover. MOECC staff also found waste tumbling down steep slopes that were too steep to be covered.
The reports also document litter in the woods around the landfill.
Glenn Rutherford, a provincial officer with the Peterborough District Office, said the findings, “are all indicative of poor landfill operational practices.”
Rutherford, in the provincial officer’s report, says, “the large pile of uncovered waste is likely allowing precipitation to enter the waste pile, become contaminated with contaminants from the landfill and subsequently discharging to the leachates seeps …”
During the May 17 visit, MOECC staff found black liquid pooled inside the entrance, staining on the interior landfill road, and near the toe of the construction and demolition pile. The municipality put sand down to absorb it.
They also found dark, discoloured, odourless liquid between the toe of the active dumping area and internal road and a bit just outside the gate. The roadside ditch was stained orange, characteristic of leachate. In addition, three large leachate seeps were found outside the current landfill footprint flowing towards the landfill boundary and surface water features southwest of the landfill.
By June 7, some of the black liquid had been cleaned up near the front of the site, and a berm had been placed at the waste pile, but a small pool of black liquid had collected behind the berm.
“During both site visits, I noted the leachate is flowing overland on the property for a significant distance from the landfill footprint … the weather was warm and dry. I reasonably believe that it is possible the leachate could reach the property boundary during a large rainfall or snowmelt event,” Rutherford said.
Surface water specialist, Lauren Forrester, agreed. In her report, she said the leachate is not new, with water monitoring at the Scotch Line landfill since 1981. She said water quality downstream of the site is not significantly impacted by landfill operations at this time, however, there have been changes this spring.
The seeps are flowing towards the southwest property boundary and Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek eventually flows to Balsam Lake and the Trent River within the Gull River Watershed.
“I reasonably believe the requirements specified in this order are necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of any discharge of contaminants, namely landfill leachate, into the natural environment from the site, and/or to prevent, decrease or eliminate an adverse effect that may result from the presence or discharge of such contaminants in, on or under the site,” Rutherford said.
Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin discussed the order with The Highlander in a telephone interview June 30.
“Obviously, you’re never happy when the circumstances lead to an order,” he said.
Devolin said they have asked Cambium to develop a plan to remedy issues outlined in the order. They have also asked for a report from Cambium on the circumstances that led to the order and whether it is operational or otherwise.
Devolin said a special meeting of council will be called once Cambium has its plan so that council can review it and make any necessary revisions in time for the MOECC’s early August deadline.
Devolin said the municipality has submitted its 25-year asset management plan to the province detailing what it will be doing at Scotch Line in the future and is awaiting approval.
“So I would just say this expedites things somewhat.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.