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MOE gives Ramara deadline

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In Council Watch
Jan 23rd, 2015
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Township must remove waste from old quarry by Jan. 30

By Patrick Bales Orillia Packet & Times

The saga of some inappropriately dumped waste in Ramara Township continues.

Ramara’s committee of the whole received an official letter from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOE) this week outlining how the township had violated the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) regarding waste disposal in December.

However, council is still “gathering info,” Mayor Basil Clarke said.

“The soil samples are back, but a layman can’t understand them,” he said.

The full report has not been seen by Ramara council yet, Leanne Marshall, assistant to the CAO, wrote in an email. Until councillors see the document, it will not be available to the public.

Council has requested the company that did the sampling, Soil Engineers Ltd., speak at a future meeting to fully explain its findings to councillors.

“We’re trying to find out who is responsible (and) what happened,” Clarke said.

Dec. 19, a contractor hired by the township cleaned out the floor drains in the municipal works garages and the work was carried out at three sites. The same day the cleaning occurred, the township was first contacted by the MOE to alert Ramara of a complaint regarding a spill at the township pit.

A neighbour to the quarry who saw the waste coming out of the vacuum truck reported it to the township and the MOE.

In the letter to the township, the MOE identified two non-compliance items resulting from a site visit Dec. 22.

The township violated the EPA through the establishment of a waste-disposal site and the permitting and arranging for the deposit of waste on unapproved land that does not have environmental-compliance approval as a waste-disposal site.

By Jan. 30, the township is to remove the waste to a ministry-approved site and by March 6, the township is required to provide training to all appropriate township staff and subcontractors outlining the ministry’s legislation and requirements for the handling, storage and disposal of waste.

Clarke said Wednesday the waste had not been removed from the site.

On top of the MOE probe of the incident, Clarke said, the township is conducting an internal investigation, “right from when the contractor was hired to the clean up of the site.”

Not only does the township want to discover what was disposed of improperly at the old limestone quarry on Sideroad D-E; it also wants to find out what was in the drains that were being cleaned out.

“There may be trace elements of oil, maybe soap,” Clarke said. “If the concentration (in the drains) is too high, we may have to change polices.”

Last week, Kate Jordan, MOE spokesperson, told The Packet & Times, “Our focus has been on making sure materials are properly managed, removed and disposed of.”

“A decision on an investigation that could result in charges and, if convicted, penalties or fines has not been made at this point,” she added.

Clarke said Wednesday the township hadn’t been informed of any charges and remains hopeful it won’t face further punishment.

“We’ve been more than co-operative with the MOE,” he said. “We’ve followed their directions to a T.”

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