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Ramara reprimanded after waste dumped at decommissioned quarry

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In Council Watch
Jan 13th, 2015
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By Patrick Bales Orillia Packet & Times

Ramara Township has been reprimanded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) for violating the Environmental Protection Act.

A notice of violation was delivered to the township Monday afternoon by the MOE, stating the township had exceeded the parameters for inert fill-storage after an incident at the old limestone quarry on Sideroad D-E.

Soil samples returned to the township show while all impacted soils have been removed from the quarry, they still need to be disposed of. A memo to councillors from Monday evening indicated the waste will have to be removed to a ministry-approved site, possibly the Simcoe County landfill. This MOE has ordered this to be completed by Jan. 30.

As well, the MOE is requiring Ramara staff to complete training on waste-management activities by March 6.

“We will develop a proper process to deal with this waste and train our employees,” Ramara Fire Chief Dave McCarthy said Tuesday.

While council has received information about the MOE’s decision and the status of the contaminated soil, a full written statement to the township from the MOE on the violation had not be made available by Tuesday morning. As well, a detailed report on the contamination, which will outline exactly what had been improperly disposed of in the first place, has not been delivered to either party yet.

The contents of that report will dictate the next move for the MOE, spokesperson Kate Jordan told The Packet & Times.

“Once we receive the soil samples, we will review those and that will lead to our next step,” she said.

“Our focus has been on making sure materials are properly managed, removed and disposed of,” Jordan added. “A decision on an investigation that could result in charges and, if convicted, penalties or fines has not been made at this point.”

Jordan expected the soil samples to arrive to the MOE shortly.

On Dec. 19, a contractor hired by the township to clean 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 Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, McCarthy told The Packet & Times recently.

Cleanup began in earnest the following day, with town staff removing the affected material immediately, about 30 cubic metres worth, to a tarp-lined, bermed area at the public works yard. On Dec. 22, MOE officials were on site, along with a sampling company which allowed the government agency to determine that Ramara had in fact violated the EPA.

The EPA stipulates how to handle waste and that its disposal cannot cause adverse impacts to sites outside of where it is dumped.

When speaking to The Packet & Times two weeks ago, Ramara mayor Basil Clarke said the drainage catch basins at works yards 1 and 3 hadn’t been cleaned in more than eight years, and he doesn’t know what happened to the waste in the basins the last time they were emptied.

The basins were mostly filled with gravel, but anything that runs off the trucks in the bays passes through them.

“There are opportunities, obviously, for lubricants off the chassis to be in those catch basins,” McCarthy said. “Plus, when they’re washing the trucks, all the soap goes in, too.”

Clarke said the incident was merely a mistake that wouldn’t be repeated, calling the decision to dump the waste at the quarry an oversight.

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