Yes there has been historical off site groundwater contamination at the site. In fact it was first noted in 1986 when the Ministry of the Environment ordered the landfill operator of the day to supply residents along Carp Road with clean city water. Subsequent studies have shown that this historical contamination has moved primarily in a northeast direction to lands across Carp Road from the landfill. This is where the water quality guideline exceedances mentioned in the press release continue today.
It is true that the Ministry of the Environment has required Waste Management to put in place control systems to try and control the level of contamination leaving the site. And they continue to operate these systems even though the landfill closed in 2011; as they are required to under the terms of their Certificate of Environmental Compliance until such time as the level of contamination is reduce to acceptable levels. As well as the control systems, Waste Management has been required to purchase lands east of Carp Road that have elevated levels of leachate indicators. These lands comprise a Contaminate Attenuation Zone (CAZ) where land use is restricted until such time as the high levels of leachate parameters are reduced by natural attenuation to levels that are within the provincial guidelines that are designed to protect groundwater use on adjacent lands.
The Ministry of the Environment is charged with the conservation of the groundwater resources of the Province. In order to achieve this, guidelines on water quality have been developed to assure that discharge to neighbouring properties has no more than a negligible or trivial effect on the existing and potential reasonable use of adjacent property. As shown in the press release these guidelines (B-7) have been exceeded since 2001 when monitoring on the CAZ property began and continues today. On average these exceedances have been 60% over the guideline limits during the monitoring period.
The guideline limits are designed to be on the conservative side so they are less than the drinking water standards set out by the Province. Thus there is a safety margin when it comes to protecting the drinking water supply. This is understandable because if the guidelines were set at drinking water standards it would be too late for corrective action if they were exceeded. However in 1986 when the contamination problem was first detected there were families living along Carp Road using the groundwater as a source of water. Since that time the families have moved, the wells abandoned and houses have been moved or demolished. Surly this is a sign that the drinking water quality has been impacted.
The concern is that the landfill has impacted the groundwater to the extent that 125 acres of land had to be purchased by Waste Management to act as a Contaminate Attenuation Zone so that high levels of contaminates can be attenuated to acceptable levels over time. And that where families use to live using groundwater as the source of drinking water there are now empty lots. The control systems proposed and put in place by the landfill operator over the years seem to have limited effect as to this day there are exceedances of the guidelines and new control systems being proposed. How can a site that for years has impacted the groundwater resource and exceeded provincial guidelines, be considered for expansion until proven controls are in place?
Harold Moore, DLOGTW Campaign