Fears surface that old landfill may be leaking
By DOUGLAS GLYNN Barrie Examiner
Town councillor Stephan Kramp wants to know if leachate from a closed landfill site is a potential threat to the source water that supplies some of the town’s wells.
Kramp first raised concerns in December during discussion of a bylaw to create a road authority agreement with Simcoe County and Tiny Township. The agreement would, among other things, allow the county to create a containment attenuation zone (CAZ) in the vicinity of the Golf Link Rd. transfer station.
Council agreed in December to table the bylaw until the county provided clarification.
When the bylaw came back for discussion last week, it was given first reading, then tabled again to allow time for council to meet with Rob McCullough, the county’s director of environmental services.
McCullough proposed the meeting in a letter to town engineer Doug Baker.
Kramp has suggested that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) be invited to the meeting, along with members of Tiny Township council, because Tiny is a party to the agreement.
“As I understand it,” Kramp said in an interview, “there is a plume moving in a north to northwest direction towards Penetanguishene.”
“Our source water is in the Midland swamp. Do they (the county) expect it to eventually reach our source water? I’d like some projections as to when, and if, that could happen,” he said.
Kramp said documents he has seen contain conflicting opinions from the MOE and the county. “I have a number of questions for the county and the ministry,” he said.
In December when he raised his concerns, Kramp said that given the county and the MOE’s track records concerning Site 41, “the only people I trust to protect the water of the people of Midland are the people around this (the council) table.”
The source of the leachate is believed to be the former Midland- Penetanguishene-Tiny (MPT) landfill that was closed in the 1970s. Responsibility for it now rests with Simcoe County, which took over waste management in the early 1990s. The county-operated transfer station sits on part of the old MPT landfill site.
In his letter to Baker, McCullough noted that the county has been monitoring the site since 1998 and that significant new monitoring and investigations have recently taken place.
The letter states, “reasonable use” of groundwater on property adjacent to sources of impacted groundwater and for determining criteria that are acceptable to the Ministry of the Environment.
“Groundwater flow is mainly to the north with some flow towards the road allowance owned jointly by the Town of Midland and the Township of Tiny.”
“In order to satisfy Ministry of the Environment requirements,” the letter adds, “a road authority agreement is required to be signed by both the Township of Tiny and Town of Midland.”
The letter also mentions that the county consultants compile the monitoring data for the site and provide a bi-annual report to both the county and the MOE. “As with all annual monitoring reports for the landfill sites, these reports are public documents,” it adds.
The executive summary of the consultant’s 2007-08 bi-annual report said, in part, that “an inorganic plume originates from the refuse disposal area and extends in a north and northwesterly direction within the upper and lower portions of the sand unit beneath the county forest lands and towards the southern portion of the Unimin property.”
It also states, “there is no threat to water quality in local wells from volatile organic compounds.”
In an interview, McCullough said the word “plume” can mean many things. He said the MPT site never had a liner, or leachate collection system.
He explained that if leachate was spreading, the county would have to acquire more land “so that through the normal degradation process when it (the leachate) reaches a new property line it is within the provincial quality parameters, which are stricter than drinking water.
“Basically, you have to own enough land to ensure that if it is spreading it is not negatively affecting someone other than ourselves,” he said.
“We either acquire the property or the groundwater rights for the property.
“That’s what we are doing here and (we have to have) the ability, if we choose, to put more monitoring wells in the ensure things are as our consultants anticipate.”