Coalition contre le mégadépotoir de Danford
Coalition Against Danford Mega-dump
C. P. 911, Danford Lake (Québec) J0X 1P0
M. Claude Béchard,
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Édifice Marie-Guyart, 30ème étage
675, boulevard René-Lévesque Est
Québec (Québec) G1R 5V7
Subject: Proposed Mega-landfill site in Danford Lake, Municipality of Alleyn-and-Cawood, MRC de Pontiac, Outaouais Region
We thank you for the letters we received on the above topic from your Ministry, the first sent September 14 and signed by Cody Barker-Greene of your office, and a subsequent one dated October 4 from Guy Demers of the Direction des évaluations environnementales in Gatineau. These letters had been addressed to M. Shannon Martin, President of the Danford Lake and District Property Owners Association in response to a letter he had sent on August 27.
Since the above exchange of letters there have been a great many developments. Opposition in the Municipality to the project has grown enormously, to the point that the Municipal Council is seriously at odds with the vast majority of the citizens in the community. Aside from the controversy surrounding the dump, the process by which the Municipal Council advances this project is itself the subject of considerable unhappiness and mistrust. Our letter to Premier Charest of January 20, copied to you, underlines these concerns in more detail.
Also since our earlier exchange, the people in the above Municipality, as well as from some neighbouring municipalities, who are opposed to the dump have organized themselves into a group called the “Coalition against the Danford Lake Mega-dump/Coalition contre le mégadépotoir de Danford”. An application has been filed to incorporate the coalition as a not-for-profit corporation.
In addition to the difficulties we are encountering getting information locally (our letter to Premier Charest refers) we have a number of serious outstanding questions for the Provincial Government. These relate to the Provincial process for approving this landfill; the Quebec laws relating to landfill sites, and the enforcement of them. As these are the responsibility of your Ministry, we would be very grateful for your assistance in answering some of the questions below.
- MORATORIUM ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW LANDFILL SITES
It is our understanding that the government of Quebec imposed in December 1995 a moratorium on the establishment of new landfill sites due to the environmental risks associated with them. Exceptions to this moratorium can be authorized if there is no operating landfill site in the region. On 27 April 2005, the proposed operators of the Danford Lake site requested, and obtained (in August 2005) from your Ministry such an exception.
We also understand that by 2008, by law, all trench landfills must be closed. We similarly understand that each MRC, by law, must take care of its own waste and cannot export it to a site in another MRC after 2008.
These three items, considered together, do not seem to make sense. How can the two laws mentioned above be implemented while the moratorium is still in existence. Is it the intent of your Ministry to grant many more exceptions to the moratorium, or are we misinterpreting the two laws?
Should the process of approving the Danford Lake site ultimately require a BAPE hearing, can you ensure us that the opinions of the large number of local residents who oppose the site will be taken fully into account? Can the BAPE reject a proposal on this basis alone?
We understand that the BAPE report is not necessarily binding upon the Government. If the BAPE reports significant local opposition to the project, can you assure us that the Provincial Government will respect this report and prevent the project from proceeding?
- CROSS-BORDER SHIPMENT OF WASTE
Is there any way that waste, residential or commercial, can legally be shipped across the provincial border from Ontario into Quebec? If this is prohibited, how will this law be enforced? How can we, as a community, ensure it is respected?
Although we understand that such cross-border shipments are illegal, industry sources allege that it is not unusual or particularly difficult to do. Indeed we believe that waste trucks with Ontario license plates are often seen near the Cantley dump. In the case of the proposed Danford Lake landfill site, we are particularly concerned about this given that the majority owner/operator of the proposed site is Cohen and Cohen, an Ottawa scrap metal and demolition company. Considering the landfill’s proximity to Ontario, the attraction to Ontario firms looking for disposal of commercial or construction waste is obvious.
- CAPABILITY OF THE OPERATOR
In its final consideration of the merits of a proposed site, after the environmental studies and the BAPE report, does the Ministry assess the technical and financial capabilities of the proposed operator?
If not, how can the local residents reassure themselves that the proposed operator has the technical ability to run the site; possesses the financial ability to ensure that the landfill site is properly operated; will respect all environmental rules; and has the ability to protect the community financially against a disaster of some type?
In the case of the Danford Lake site, the promoters allege that, although the requested certificate is for a site with a capacity of 250,000 tons per year, the actual usage will be far less than that because there is simply not enough waste in the Outaouais to fill such a site.
In its assessment of the merits of the proposal, does the Ministry try to ensure that the size of the landfill is proportional to the local needs? Can the Ministry reduce the site to a more appropriate size, given local conditions?
Does the Ministry authorize a landfill site to operate only within certain hours, or is the operator allowed to determine this according to his needs.
If there are restrictions to the hours of operation, how is they enforced?
- CONNECTION WITH THE CANTLEY DUMP
Is the Ministry aware of any overlap between the management structure of the operators of the dump in Cantley Quebec with the one proposed for Danford Lake? We are aware of some connections between the two, but are unsure of the details.
Given the press reports of outrageous abuse of the Quebec laws, and total disrespect of the Ministry requirements, shown by of the Cantley operators in recent years, would the Ministry ever contemplate allowing that operator, or people affiliated with that dump, to open another site in Quebec?
As mentioned above, over the eight months that the Danford Lake and District Property Owners’ Association and the newer Coalition Against Danford Mega-dump have been engaged on this file, it has proven to be extremely difficult to obtain reliable and consistent information from either the promoter of the dump or the Municipality.
Your assistance in answering these questions would be most welcomed.