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Soil remediation proposal a concern: resident

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In Ramara
Apr 15th, 2013
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By Frank Matys Orillia Today April 12 2013
A proposed treatment facility for contaminated soil will bring needed jobs and money to the township’s coffers, Ramara Mayor Bill Duffy says.
“There will be a financial benefit to the township, it will be based on a certain dollar per ton that goes in and goes out,” Duffy said. “That is how we are doing business.”
However, some are expressing concerns over the safety of the project, which will be discussed at a public meeting on April 15 at council’s chambers.
Ward 3 Coun. Erika Neher said potential revenues are not enough for her to support the facility.
“For some people it might be about money,” she said. “I don’t want to sell safety away for money. I want to be sure it is absolutely safe. Money isn’t worth anything if we contaminate our area.”
Township resident John Hargrave also is voicing concern over the proposal by NRK Holdings Inc. to locate a soil remediation facility on part of a property on Concession Road B-C.
Hargrave worries a nearby creek could be contaminated, were the system to fail.
“If it ever breaks down and gets into the crick, that big crick runs into the Head River and that runs into the Black River,” he said. “The Black River runs into the Severn (River) and the Severn goes into the Trent-Severn Waterway and into Georgian Bay.”
Neher harbors similar concerns.
“I will not vote for the remediation (facility), unless something new comes up,” she said, alleging a lack of information. “Where is (the soil) coming from? What kind of contamination are they dealing with?”
The company initially plans to operate a quarry on the property, with a ‘soil bioremediation’ facility to follow once the limestone extraction is complete.
Bioremediation uses naturally occurring microbes to break down contaminants found in soil, converting them “into a less toxic or non-toxic form,” according to an information sheet provided by the company.
The proposed design would ensure “no negative impact on surrounding land and water resources,” the company said, adding the project would comply with environment ministry standards.
Duffy said the company was applying for Official Plan and zoning amendments, but added that provincial approval was required to operate the facility.
“Where they are putting the soil remediation is above the water table, away from the creek with a liner, gravel, everything that the MOE has to approve to make it happen,” said Duffy, adding the liner has a “lifetime guarantee.”
Company president Nick Marchese said the soil would contain “no liquid waste whatsoever.
“It’s basically hydro carbons ¬– gas, gas station stuff,” he said. “Gas stations that are closing down, mostly from there.”
“No harmful waste whatsoever,” Marchese told Orillia Today.
The proposed treatment facility would be open, like a bathtub with a protective membrane or concrete liner to prevent contaminants from migrating.
“Nothing’s going to leave that area, not dirt or water,” Marchese added. “Everything’s going to be self-contained.”
Soil would not be accepted at the facility without consultant reports showing the material is acceptable, he said.
Hargrave attended a meeting hosted by the company in early April but said his concerns over potential environmental problems were not alleviated.
“It may not happen in my life time, but I’ve got children and grandchildren here,” he added.
Duffy, who insisted he hadn’t made up his mind on the proposal, again stressed the municipality was seeking new revenue sources.
“As mayor of the township, you just can’t raise people’s taxes year after year,” he added. “The economy isn’t the best and our costs keep going up and we are looking at other ways of making money.”
Neher, meanwhile, is seeking answers.
“There is no definition of what kind of soil, where it is coming from,” she added. “Once they have the zoning they don’t have to tell us anything. That is what worries me.”
The April 15 meeting starts at 7 p.m.
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