By Chad Ingram
The Township of Minden Hills is making progress on resolving a number of long-standing issues at its main waste disposal facility, the Scotch Line landfill.
Back in 2017, the township was issued orders from what is now the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for violations of the environmental compliance approval (ECA) for the operation of the site. Those violations included a mountain of construction and demolition waste on the property, improper grading and leachate outbreaks.
During a December council meeting, councillors heard from township waste facilities manager Tara Stephen regarding work undertaken to bring the township into compliance. As for the large volume of construction and demolition waste, “We have successfully cleaned up those historical stockpiles,” Stephen said. A staff report indicated the material had gradually been removed from the property during 2019 and 2020.
“Contracts are now in place to continue to manage material as it collects, in order to ensure that material does not accumulate in excess of approved quantities,” read the report, prepared by public works director Travis Wilson. “As contracts expire, the township will undergo a competitive procurement process to hire service providers to manage this material.”
As for the grading, the township rented a bulldozer to remove what Stephen referred to as “sheer cliffs of garbage.”
“There’s still a small amount of excavation work to do,” she told councillors.
As for the leachate, which is water that has passed through and percolated in waste, the solution may actually be simpler than once thought. “Over the course of the summer and fall of 2020, additional groundwater and surface water collection was completed, and a series of test pits were excavated to assess subsurface conditions,” Wilson’s report read. “The results of this work indicated that the source of the outbreak was actually surface water flowing through the landfill. This meant the township could focus on much simpler, more cost-effective solutions.”
“It has been identified that the primary source of the leachate outbreaks is infiltration of surface water (rain and snowmelt) through the garbage,” the report continued. “In order to stop this, the water that lands on the site needs to be encouraged to roll off of the site, rather than flow through the site. Part of achieving this is to grade the site so that there is no flat or depressed areas on the site. This work was largely completed in the fall of 2020. This will be partly effective in redirecting surface water infiltration.”
Capping the area with a soil liner such as clay will also be required, as well as interim covering.
The cost for the associated work totals hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This is a good news report even though the price tag on it looks like a bad news report,” Stephen said.
The report indicates about $800,000 worth of work associated with dealing with the leachate outbreaks over the next decade or so. For 2021, $265,000 is budgeted for regrading, covering and monitoring. For each of 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026, $35,000 per annum is budgeted for interim covering, and for 2023, $165,000 is budgeted for regrading, final covering and monitoring. Beyond 2026, $35,000 per year will continue to be required for monitoring, and the report showed $85,000 to $235,000 listed for the future as needed, for interim covering, monitoring and contingency.