Recommendations never carried out at New Harbour dump
We are requesting answers to questions we have consistently asked regarding fish habitat surveys and testing downstream from the New Harbour dump.
During a meeting at the Lions Club June 26, 2006, (in Dildo) Amec Earth and Environmental presented their recommendations to the public.
The recommendations for water sediment, and fish testing downstream were excellent, but served no purpose because they were never implemented.We were never told why. That leaves us no choice but to draw our own conclusions.
In a 2002 report SGE Acres concluded the Steady (downstream from the dumpsite) was apparently dead, and “if it once contained fish there could be a violation of section 36 of the Fisheries Act.”
Here are some of the recommendations made by Amec and our conclusions as to why they were never implemented:
• Recommendation - a collection of Fisheries information with respect to historic fish distribution and recreational fisheries within the Steady area.
Our observation is that this wasn’t done because it would show there was a violation of the Fisheries Act.
• Recommendation - Fisheries habitat surveys be conducted on the Gully Stream, the Steady and interconnecting streams to Denny’s Pond.
Our conclusion: no survey was ever conducted on the Gully Stream, the Steady, or Three Corner Pond. If it had, it would have been clear that no fish could live there (Brown or Brook trout).
Had a survey been done, it would add to the evidence that there was a violation of the Fisheries Act.Also there would not have been a map in the final Amec report with arrows pointing to the Steady and Gully Stream as being the source of the fish taken for sampling.
Neither the survey nor the testing ever took place. When we disputed this, Environment Minister Charlene Johnson sent us a map from Google earth on which she had written: “fish sampling locations shown in more detail.”
After months and repeated attempts we finally received the GPS coordinates where fish were taken (indicated by thumbtacks). We went to the locations that were indicated on the map, where the affluent from the dump enters Three Corner Pond. The coordinates did not match.
We then knew we had to go further east and south to arrive at those coordinates. On arrival we found ourselves three quarter ways upstream in Big Pond Brook, close to Big Pond itself. The coordinates prove that the trout samples, if taken at all, were taken there.
In the final Amec report there is a map provided by the Department of Environment. On this map there is a body of water named Three Corner Pond. That is incorrect.The correct name of that pond is Big Pond.
In the SGE Acres (2002 report) those errors were corrected and the ponds were correctly named.
Both the Department of Environment and Amec knew this.They both had access to that report and all others. Was this a mistake? Or a deliberate act to minimize the effects this dump has had on the surrounding environment?
• Recommendation - Take water samples from the surface, midcolumn and bottom layers from the deepest portions of both Three Corner Pond and Denny’s Pond. That would have worked in Denny’s Pond but wasn’t done. However in Three Corner Pond you would be taking samples every two inches, considering there is no more than six inches of water in the pond.
• Recommendation - A collection of sediment samples from the deepest portions of the Steady, Three Corner Pond, and Denny’s Pond. This was easily attainable, considering that Three Corner Pond is completely filled in, yet the recommendation was never implemented. Why?
Many have asked why monitoring wells were not installed around the Steady and Three Corner Pond. It certainly was warranted.The conclusions reached by Harris & Associates in 1996 was that leachate migrating off the dump site had already contaminated an extensive amount of the ground water and showed a serious contamination problem with pollution in the order of several hundred metres.
It was also stated in the report Three Corner Pond would be the area where the ground water would most likely reach the surface and any contamination would show a possible serious pollution problem.
It is obvious why recommendations were not implemented.Amec made the recommendations. Government said no.
To address the issue of this so called PCB clean up: We feel that neither the Amec consultants nor Collins Construction who are engaged in the excavation at the site and transportation of the contaminated soil to their site in Sunnyside would have any objections to having the area where the transformers are buried clearly defined and properly tested. Why would they?
At the June 26,2006 meeting at the Lions Club,Amec supplied documentation outlining their recommendations for remediation and closure of the dump. Very little was said about PCBs except further testing around a hot spot identified earlier would determine the amount of contaminated soil to be removed.
This all centres around the Makinsons clean up of 1994.At that June 2006 meeting Amec was informed of a much larger clean up in 1985-86 when 228 tandem loads of PCB contaminated waste was off loaded on the New Harbour dump and buried. All illegal. The question is: was this the first Amec knew about this?
If it was, then government knowingly withheld important information. So the cover up continues.
When MHA Tom Osborne was Environment critic he spoke the absolute truth when he made this statement:“This is a cover up.” He has never retracted that statement. He also called for a full investigation into the matter.
In the final report it said PCB soil sampling consisted of excava- tion of two test pits, on Nov. 27,2006, at locations provided by Mr. Woodrow Mullett of the New Harbour waste management committee. This was a complete farce. Mr. Mullett didn’t even know what side of the dump the waste was buried on. He had to be shown. When he asked where he should dig, he was advised to seek the assistance of Howard Thorne (Hobbs Construction) who buried it there. Mr. Mullett said he would do so. But did not. Why?
Who knows, maybe a more scientific method was taken. Toss a coin, heads we dig here, tails over there. This is sort of humorous in a way.
Results from test pit 6 found PCB levels exceeding guidelines.This led to 60 tonnes of soil being removed and trucked to Sunnyside. More compliance sampling resulted in another 100 tonnes being removed. This is far more than the 30 tonnes that were slated for removal.
This must have caused Environment Minister Clyde Jackman some concern. They were not looking for contaminated areas; they were looking for clean areas. It backfired. Mr. Jackman posed the question in The Compass: at what point do we start believing the experts?
That question might have had some legitimacy if Minister Jackman and his cohorts had trusted the experts (whom they are paying) and followed recommendations.
New Harbour dump may soon close down and will probably be fenced, and garbage will be levelled off, compressed and after a period of settling, a cap will cover the waste. Soil will cover the cap, and maybe some hydro seed will be thrown over the soil, and presto — a Garden of Eden.
We will most likely be told at that time that all our concerns have been addressed and dealt with and the dump now poses no risk.
We feel that capping the site is much like a house that has a roof but no walls or floor, and is a risk. It will be a risk a year from now and a hundred years from now.
Can you guarantee us it isn’t and won’t be a risk?