By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 7 2017
The Township of Minden Hills is once again under fire from the province for the condition of the Scotch Line landfill.
The municipality received an order from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on Nov. 30 the second such order it has received this year.
The first issued in June was about the high amount of leachate on the landfill property. The most recent is due to the amount and improper storage of hazardous material at the site.
The order from Gary Muloin senior environmental officer with the MOECC’s Peterborough office identifies a number of instances where the municipality has exceeded permitted quantities for the temporary storage of hazardous waste.
These include the number of compressed gas tanks located on the property (it is not to exceed 50 stored in an appropriately designed and enclosed area) a number of vehicle batteries being stored on the ground (they are to be stored on pallets covered from the elements) and quantities of aerosol cans oil filters toner cartridges lightbulbs lithium dry cell and rechargeable batteries and paint cans.
Ministry staff arrived at the landfill for a routine inspection on Oct. 19.
“During the inspection of Oct. 19 2017 ministry staff observed materials such as waste paint waste oil waste compressed gases waste batteries and waste pesticides being stored outdoors (on the ground) at the site” a report from Muloin reads. “The waste paint waste oil waste compressed gases waste batteries and waste pesticides would fit the definition for subject waste set in Ontario Regulation 347.
“Ministry staff were informed by staff from the Township of Minden Hills that subject wastes being stored at the site were incidental materials received at the site and diverted from the landfill. Some of the containers of waste oil were not properly secured with a lid and containers of pesticides were observed to be laying on the ground. The following contraventions of Condition 1(3) of the ECA were noted: the area used for the storage of MHSW (subject wastes) was not fenced; greater than 50 waste compressed gas tanks were present at the site; cans of waste paints were not being stored in plastic lined shipping drums; vehicle batteries were being stored on the ground not in an area sheltered from precipitation; more than four 250-litre drums filled with aerosol cans were present at the site.”
The ministry requested that the materials be removed by a licensed carrier and taken to a licensed disposal site.
“On Oct. 31 2017 ministry staff attended the site and noted that subject waste materials were being stored at the site in a similar manner to what was initially observed on Oct. 19 2017” the report reads. The same went for subsequent visits on Nov. 6 and Nov. 14.
Emails regarding the situation were exchanged between township staff and ministry staff over the span of nearly a month.
“In the period between Oct. 22 and Nov. 17 2017 ministry staff and staff from the Corporation of the Township of Minden Hills exchanged email correspondence on several occasions related to the management and removal of subject waste materials from the site” Muloin’s report reads.
“Issues related to the storage of subject waste materials at the site were also documented in a compliance inspection report produced by ministry staff dated Nov. 17 2017. On Nov. 20 2017 ministry staff received an email from staff from the Corporation of the Township of Minden Hills advising that subject wastes were removed from the site on Nov. 17 2017 by Buckham Transport Limited.”
When ministry staff returned to the landfill on Nov. 21 they discovered a significant amount of the waste material was still there then sent further correspondence to the township requesting the materials be removed as soon as possible.
“On Nov. 23 2017 ministry staff received an email from staff from the Corporation of the Township of Minden Hills advising that Buckham Transport Limited would be at the site on Wednesday Nov. 29 2017 to complete the removal of all subject waste from the site.
“On Nov. 30 2017 ministry staff attended the site and observed Buckham Transport Limited staff packing subject waste materials and loading the materials into a vehicle owned/operated by Buckham Transport Limited. Ministry staff were informed that the amount of subject waste present at the site was greater than the capacity of the hauling vehicle owned by Buckham Transport Limited present at the site. Ministry staff contacted staff at the office of Buckham Transport Limited and were informed that only one load was scheduled to be removed from the site on this date. Any subject wastes remaining at the site would have to be removed at a later date.”
The provincial order gave the township until Dec. 6 to clean things up sufficiently.
“So we do have one more load up there that needs to go” Minden Hills property and environmental operations manager Ivan Ingram told councillors during a meeting on Dec. 4. The special meeting was called to deal with the provincial order.
Ingram told councillors he was confident the requirements could be met by the Dec. 6 deadline. It was also noted by the ministry that the township had failed to submit paperwork for which Ingram took responsibility.
“Failure to submit paperwork to the MOECC . . . in my ignorance I didn’t know that we were supposed to directly send a white copy to the MOECC” Ingram said.
Minden Hills does host hazardous household waste days half of dozen of them mostly through the spring and summer months. In between staff continue to find hazardous waste material mixed in with other garbage at the landfill which they pull out and store separately. Ingram said that people also leave hazardous waste at the gate which the township must then store and ship.
“I think the problem that we got into is we were allowed at one time to store this stuff” he said noting that times have changed.
“I’ll be honest I wasn’t very happy when I saw this Thursday afternoon” said Mayor Brent Devolin. “Obviously the world has changed in a hurry and certainly the criteria that we’ve operated by in the past is no longer sufficient on any level.”
Devolin noted there have been a total of four provincial orders in the county this year with other townships in the county receiving them as well.
“We’re the first one to get two but it’s a countywide issue . . . and we’ll be having conversations at the county level about this” he said.
Councillor Pam Sayne wanted to know that happens to the waste products when they leave the landfill property.
“I’m interested to know where we’re shipping this to” Sayne said. “Is there a market is there a place for this?”
Ingram said the materials are recycled at specialized facilities. He said he’d put more money for transportation in his department’s budget for 2018 but was unsure how much additional funding would be needed.
“It’s a crapshoot quite honestly because we don’t know how much we’ll be getting” he said.
Councillors said public education as well as the prospect of hosting more hazardous household waste days should be considered.
Devolin said it may be necessary to construct permanent buildings for the storage of the materials something that will be included in the 25-year plan for the Scotch Line landfill but something that may have to happen sooner than planned.
“Obviously storing some of these things on an interim basis building some of these structures might have to jump further ahead in the queue for us not to be in this position” he said.
Devolin also suggested council consider the idea of video cameras at the landfill in order to catch residents who are dumping materials at its gates.
Ingram pointed to provincial plans around the so-called “circular economy” where manufacturers would be made responsible for the end-of-life care of their products and packaging.
“That’s not happening in 2018 from the provincial level so I think we need to plan for the next year or two” Devolin said.
“I assume looking around the table we want to comply with these standards what we have to spend as quick as we can do it whether it’s structures training . . .whatever the pieces are.”
A training day is scheduled for next week for landfill attendants and municipal staff which councillors can also join in on.
Devolin said it’s likely there will be increases on the tax bill to pay for environmental operations expenses.