By Chad Ingram
Published July 20 2017
Minden Hills township will perform some $155000 of remediation work at its Scotch Line landfill in response to a provincial officer’s order issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on June 19.
That order followed site visits that came as a result of a complaint about leachate – that is water that has percolated through waste – leaking out of the landfill onto surrounding property.
During a May 17 visit to the landfill Glenn Rutherford senior environmental officer for the Peterborough district office of the MOECC noted a number of issues which according to the order included “an area of black liquid pooled on the ground a short distance inside the site entrance; black staining and black liquid along the site access road leading towards the construction and demolition waste pile. It is believed this black liquid is being formed when precipitation percolates through the waste pile.”
The order also pointed to the construction and demolition pile at the landfill as problematic since it contains some materials that are not permitted to be chipped into cover.
“The pile is partly composed of wood waste but contained significant quantities of materials such as plastics and upholstered furniture which are not included in the list of items approved for use as alternative daily cover at the site” it reads. “This waste pile was not covered.”
Other concerns in the order include two areas of dark odorous liquid collecting between the dumping area and the access road; an area of black liquid outside the gate of the landfill; and orange staining indicative of leachate along a roadside ditch outside the landfill.
“Three large leachate seeps were found outside their current landfilling footprint” the order continues. “All three were flowing. The direction of the flow was towards the landfill boundary and surface water features southwest of the landfill. A significant amount of exposed litter was found in the woods beyond the current landfill footprint. The side slopes of the landfill are extremely steep and waste is tumbling down the slopes. The slopes are too steep to be covered with cover material. Marker stakes identifying the current landfill footprint were not evident.”
At the request of the ministry the township conducted some work including trenching and the building of berms in order to control the flow of leachate.
Rutherford returned to the landfill site on June 7. According to the order a conversation then took place between ministry and municipal staff as well as staff from Cambium Consulting and Engineering the company Minden Hills contracts to monitor its landfills.
“Following the site tour a discussion took place at the site with all the site visit participants involved” it reads. “During that discussion Cambium staff indicated that most of the concerns I identified on May 17 . . . had been identified by Cambium previously and detailed in the 2016 annual monitoring report for the site prepared by Cambium. Cambium indicated that at this time the leachate from the leachate seeps did not appear to be leaving the property and that monitoring data includes natural attenuation of contaminates in the leachate within the property boundary. However during both site visits I noted the leachate is flowing overland on the property for a significant distance from the landfill footprint. During both visits 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.
“The observations from May 17 2017 which were confirmed on June 7 2017 and which were previously identified by Cambium and documented in the 2016 annual monitoring report are all indicative of poor landfill operational practices. 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 leachate seeps as noted above. Additionally a number of the concerns identified above contravene the conditions of Environmental Compliance Approval.”
The ministry instructed Minden Hill to create a compliance action plan to deal with the multiple concerns set out in the order from Rutherford.
A special meeting of Minden Hills council took place Monday July 17 to approve that compliance action plan with David Bucholtz of Cambium in attendance.
Bucholtz presented the compliance plan to council explaining that at its crux was better management of the construction and demolition pile at the Scotch Line landfill.
“Definitely without a doubt it was a large size” Bucholtz said.
The plan calls for all stockpiled construction and demolition waste at the landfill to be size reduced (chipped) and landfilled and/or removed from the site by a licensed hauler and/or put into the landfill as is.
Moving forward construction waste that is permissible for chipping into cover is to be stockpiled in one area while items that are not approved for chipping into cover – plastics upholstered furniture etc. – are to be stockpiled in another.
“Some signage would help” Bucholtz said.
As reported earlier in the Times some plastic items such as planters lawn furniture and storage containers are not recycled by municipalities in Haliburton County. While there are recycling streams available for most products since specialized recycling facilities are often located in urban areas local townships say it is not economically feasible for them to transport such items for recycling.
The volume of unprocessed construction and demolition pile is not to exceed 1000 cubic metres and Bucholtz suggested that markers both horizontal and vertical be installed so that it’s clear when the pile is getting too large.
As for the leachate Bucholtz said it’s been an ongoing issue at the Scotch Line landfill for years and that remediation work to address the seeps was last performed in 2012.
“The MOE’s been aware of it” he said.
He pointed to the heavy rainfall the area has experienced this spring and summer and indicated it seems likely that the increased precipitation combined with the large construction and demolition waste pile has created more leachate at the site.
Bucholtz said that better management of the pile as well as mixing chipped construction and demolition waste with sand to absorb more water should help alleviate a number of concerns listed in the provincial order.
Grading will also be done to reduce the angle of the side slopes at the landfill.
As for the litter issue Bucholtz said it’s common for litter from rural landfills to get into surrounding bush sometimes courtesy of wind but also courtesy of black bears and seagulls.
Bucholtz said the best way to deal with the seagulls would be to apply more cover but that there were other options.
Minden Hills property and environmental operations manager Ivan Ingram has presented reports about dealing with seagulls to council in the past some potential solutions including sound cannons netting and the use of falconry.
During the meeting Ingram said a consultant was coming to do a free assessment of the seagull situation at the Scotch Line landfill.
There is an ongoing issue with seagulls at nearby Mountain Lake and Councillor Jeanne Anthon said she was concerned that driving gulls out of the landfill might mean more of them at the lake.
“The worst case scenario is that we export the problem” said Reeve Brent Devolin.
The work set out in the plan will cost more than $155000 to complete. This includes $2340 for the creation of the compliance plan itself to be paid to Cambium; $25000 for tree-clearing bulldozing cover signage and berming; $80000 for leachate remediation which includes excavation and removal of materials filter cloth installation and other work; $40000 for general operations including bulldozing surveying and the creation of a litter control plan; $7500 for well repairs and replacement; $450 for residential well notification which was completed in June; and $1400 for the creation of a vermin control plan.
Approximately $30000 will be transferred from landfill reserves this year and the remainder of the costs will be included in the townships’s 2018 budget.
Surface water sampling is an ongoing practice already contained in the 2017 budget.
Councillors said they were surprised to learn of the provincial order.
“I’ll admit that when I first heard of the order from the MOE I was shocked and indeed angry” Anthon said.
“The coming about of the order I would say was a shock to all of us” said Devolin. “Our intent is to remedy these things as soon as possible.”
During a public question period at the end of the meeting there was tense exchange between Devolin and former Minden Hills councillor and political rival Brigitte Gall. Gall who ran for reeve of Minden Hills in 2014 is employed as a consultant with Highlands Environmental the company Minden Hills contracts for the provision of landfill attendants.
Gall said she wanted to know how with a small contingent of landfill attendants and 400 to 600 vehicles per day coming to the Scotch Line landfill the company would be expected to keep an eye on issues like litter making its way outside the landfill footprint.
“This isn’t sounding like a question” Devolin said. “That’s a conversation between council and our contracting consultant.”
Gall said she also wanted to provide clarification that cover is not spread daily at the Scotch Line landfill and that landfill attendants do not have authority to make operational decisions at the landfill.