Richmond Landfill to generate leachate for decades

TYENDINAGA ahAlthough it was shut down in 2011, the Richmond Landfill – located less than 15 km from Tyendinaga – has long been a concern for local residents.

In recent years, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) have been doing testing in the ditches surrounding the site and adjacent to the property over fears of ground water contamination. This eyesore of a waste pile towers over the landscape, reminiscent of a ski hill. The type of garbage stored here is officially listed as “waste,” but the sheer size has some fearing the worst.

Recent ground water tests in the watershed surrounding the site have proved that contaminants have poisoned the well water of residents in the Greater Napanee area. The landfill was officially closed in 2011, but according to Richard Lindgren, the lawyer who represents the Concerned Citizens Committee of Tyendinaga and Environs (CCCTE), the landfill will continue to generate leachate for decades.

Ontario government records show that the landfill has been in operation since 1999. A lack of environmental protection and concerns from local residents has lead to a tribunal.

Leachate is contaminated liquid that seeps into the aquifers. The area around the dump is swampy, and in the spring waters can rise and enable contaminants from the dump to travel farther than expected.

The hearing opened on Monday, April 13th at the Travel Lodge Hotel in Belleville and will last for approximately 3 weeks. The tribunal hearing is occurring because of the efforts of the CCCTE in 2012. In attendance will be representatives of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Waste Management of Canada Corporation, and the Napanee Green Lights.

An owner of one of the contaminated wells will be giving testimonial evidence. A hydro-geologist will also provide insight to the leachate contamination and a toxicologist will speak about the impacts of 1,4-Dioxane, the carcinogen that has been identified in the leachate plume.

Mike Bossio, chair of CCCTE, stated “our long-standing concerns about leachate contamination have been validated by recent field work conducted by Waste Management itself,” and Chief R. Donald Maracle of the MBQ is quoted in the Kingston Whig Standard as saying “recent investigations have proven that leachate contaminants in groundwater have migrated beyond the landfill’s boundary,” and that “groundwater and surface water flows from the Richmond landfill towards and through the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and many of our drinking water wells can be affected.”

This is a concern not only for Kenhteke:rono but our settler allies as well. The outcome is unlikely to yield any fast action but this hearing is certainly a step in the right direction.

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