Home Archives Citizens and Mohawks oppose expansion of a garbage dump in Greater Napanee

    Citizens and Mohawks oppose expansion of a garbage dump in Greater Napanee


    By Stephen C. Geneja, Chairman, The Concerned Citizens Group of Tyendinaga and Environs

    Ecology is a big factor in our daily lives. The word is derived from the Greek word “oikos” meaning household or place to live. Ecology is simply about our homes and our neighbourhoods. Canadians today are a mixed bag we don’t share a common culture, history, language, race or religion. What we do share is our commitment both to democracy and to our land. I believe that this study of nature is a civic and political duty. The picture we get from nature is most graphic and complete. Many industries today, including municipalities, appear to embrace intolerance, selfishness, pride, arrogance toward creation, and irresponsibility to the community and future generations.

    One of the principal characteristics of stakeholders, Concerned Citizens Group, and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, is their willingness to use the courts as a tool to protect their God-given share in nature –­ good water from protected aquifers.

    Governments must address the crisis in North America of pollution as an environmental crime and those that are proven to be in the environmental violator category must be treated as criminals. The closing of certain beaches on Lake Ontario, Toronto, Presqu’ile Park, and the Sandbanks and environs is evidenced every summer and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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    In French, nuisance means annoyance or harm. Blackstone expressed the Roman law maxim sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas (use your own property but not to injure another), as the foundation of the Law of Nuisance in the late eighteenth century. Ancient British common law flatly forbade an owner from using his property in such a way. A defendant’s use of his land that caused injuries to the community at large (air pollution, bad odours, health threats) was treated as a criminal offence known as public nuisance. The law was treated seriously indeed; in 1307, an English man was put to death for violating a clean air law prohibiting the burning of coal in furnaces.

    Over the centuries, an entire body of public nuisance law accumulated as a compendium of behaviour forbidden by some legislatures and courts. Edward II signed the first known clean air act, a smoke pollution control law, as early as 1273. By 1525, London residents were successfully suing city officials to require private property owners to control their swine, whose stench they claimed caused a “dreadful terror”.

    Over the years, the laws have had to be made flexible in order to cope with changing threats to the social order. By 1960, North Americans found themselves with the highest standard of living of any people in history; concurrence of events exposed the planet’s fragility and the waste of public resources. At that same period in time, North Americans were losing their health, many birds and fishes, and the purity of their waterways.

    A Clean Water Act and other water protection laws would be a positive step in protecting public property and welfare, and improve our declining water quality by forcing dischargers to internalize the cost of pollution. However, the regulations by themselves will not accomplish any of these objectives. Only widespread compliance with the law will achieve these goals. While the environmental law gives government the authority to stop pollution, it cannot compel governments to exercise that authority.

    As environmental law professor David Hodas explained in the Maryland Law Review: “Effective deterrence requires four elements: (1) significant likelihood that a violation will be detected; (2) swift and sure enforcement response; (3) appropriately severe sanctions; and (4) that each of these factors will be perceived as real.”

    Unfortunately, in Ontario, none of these factors are consistently present. Enforcement is underfunded, abused, and ignored in nearly every environmental bureaucracy. Even some supposedly fervent environmentalists find their characters and ideals wrestled from them by the seductive siren song of industry money!

    In some cases, polluters fall back on very old tactics – they will move jobs from the area if they are forced to comply with environmental laws. Locals will then cry out; “What will we do with our garbage?” New technology does exist that can take care of all gases from the wastes.

    We must constantly invest in our environmental infrastructure – clean rivers, clear air, safe foods, proper disposal of toxic waste, and recycling – in the same way that we invest in our transportation, telecommunications, education, and hospital infrastructure. Oceanographer Sylvia Earl has said that: “The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment,” We ignore that relationship at our peril.

    If the environment movement is to be a force in Canadian politics, it must have relevancy in the daily lives of the majority of Canadians. We continue to emphasize the central tenet of the Concerned Citizens Group in concert with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte that we are entitled to aquifers that are not compromised in any fashion or in the least degree, as well as clean waters in our rivers, creeks, and clean air. In our area we depend on individual household wells for our drinking water so we are especially vulnerable to any pollution from landfills or other sources.

    We believe that the technology that is up and running in Kitchener, Ontario (Subbor) could handle the current leachate crisis to our satisfaction. If the Ontario government allows this current dump or any expansion thereof to continue, this area at the headwaters of three drainage systems could continue to contaminate the groundwater and aquifer for over 1,000 years. Our group has been seeking solutions to the closing of the Richmond dump fill site for over three years now. Cell #1, which is at least 50 years old is not lined, and our greatest fear is that it is now, or will, spill leachate into the surrounding groundwater and aquifers because of the type of fractured limestone that it is known to rest on.

    XCG Environmental, of Kingston, Ontario, prepared a 33 page report on water leachate and sediment sampling at Richmond Landfill Site, specifically for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. It states categorically, that the Richmond Landfill Site has resulted in impacts on the quality of surface water in Marysville Creek and to a greater extent, the Beechwood Ditch downstream of the landfill property.

    Canadian Waste Services (C.W.S.) are now proposing a mega dump expansion. Under the circumstances, I suggest the following safeguards:

    a) If the Ontario government is bent on proceeding with the official plan amendment, the stakeholders in the subject area insist on C.W.S. Inc. placing a $5,000,000 indemnity bond with the courts or the government. If required, a referee could make payment to an injured landowner due to any financial shortfall in the sale or future property development.

    b) The existing landowners both in the immediate area and downstream or westerly of the dump site, should be given a UV system on their water supply from wells for both human and animal consumption or supplied with bottled water. The cost for same should be born by either C.W.S. Inc. or the MOE.

    c) A hydrogeological study should be made around the exterior of the dump site – strictly on private lands abutting the problem site, and reported to an in dependent third party. Since there is no provision for intervenor funding, this expense should be borne by both C.W.S. Inc. and the MOE.

    d) If a hydrogeological study shows serious leachate impacts in the limestone bed beneath the soil overburden, then recourse to having filtration water piped in from the Town of Deseronto water purification plant would appear to be the only corrective measure possible.

    As Concerned Citizens, we are opposed to any amendments to the official plan without the due process of public input, and the safeguards noted, being put in place.