Rec­om­men­da­tions never car­ried out at New Har­bour dump

The Compass - - OPINION - Al­lan Wil­liams New Har­bour

Dear ed­i­tor,

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?

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