What are friends for? Friends of the Earth, a na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion has come out in sup­port of Al­lan Wil­liams in his long bat­tle to have the New Har­bour land­fill site cleaned up.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Canada has come out to pub­licly sup­port Al­lan Wil­liams in his fight to have New Har­bour land­fill site cleaned up.

For the past 10 years Wil­liams has been do­ing his own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the site, and lob­by­ing to have it cleaned up. He has amassed a li­brary of in­for­ma­tion and re­ports, par­tic­u­larly on trans­former cas­ings that were dumped there and buried, Wil­liams be­lieves, in an area that cov­ers about 15,000 square feet. For a num­ber of years, as tons of garbage was trucked in, burned, and later buried, that area re­mained undis­turbed, de­spite the pil­ing refuse.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Canada is a char­i­ta­ble, non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion — the Cana­dian voice for FoE In­ter­na­tional, the world’s largest grass­roots en­vi­ron­men­tal net­work, con­sist­ing of 70 na­tional mem­ber groups.

In a June 2 press release, the group said with its sup­port, Wil­liams has ap­plied to fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jim Pren­tice to in­ves­ti­gate vi­o­la­tions of the “fed­eral PCB reg­u­la­tions un­der the Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act (CEPA), 1999 by the gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador, as well as oth­ers.”

FoE said Wil­liams sub­mit­ted ev­i­dence of con­tam­i­na­tion in ex­cess of reg­u­lated lim­its of PCBs at the land­fill site.

“PCBs are per­sis­tent or­ganic pol­lu­tants con­trolled glob­ally and the sub­ject of a new Cana­dian reg­u­la­tion that seeks to elim­i­nate re­leases to the en­vi­ron­ment by 90 per cent in five years and 100 per cent of stored PCBs by De­cem­ber 2009,” the group says.

“Mr. Wil­liams al­leges that trans­former cas­ings, which have been dumped at the land­fill site over the past 23 years, are leach­ing PCBs into the sur­round­ing soil and wa­ter in con­cen­tra­tions that vi­o­late the fed­eral reg­u­la­tions passed in Septem­ber 2008. Mr. Wil­liams is hope­ful that the new PCB Reg­u­la­tions and his ap­pli­ca­tion for in­ves­ti­ga­tion will force the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to step in and do the right thing - or­der the prov­ince to con­tain the PCBs and clean up the site.”

Wil­liams says af­ter spending al­most a decade try­ing to get at­ten­tion on the mat­ter, with help the FoE, “we are ex­er­cis­ing our en­vi­ron­men­tal rights to call for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion. We have asked Friends of the Earth to mon­i­tor the treat­ment of our ap­pli­ca­tion for in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the min­is­ter.” (See re­lated story)

Ac­cord­ing to FoE, un­der the Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act 1999, any Cana­dian res­i­dent can ap­ply for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of an of­fence un­der the act. The min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment is then re­quired to in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged of­fence and re­port to the ap­pli­cant ev­ery 90 days on the progress of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and on what action the min­is­ter has taken or plans to take.

Beatrice Oli­vas­tri is CEO for Friends of the Earth Canada.

She says the PCB reg­u­la­tion “is an im­por­tant new op­por­tu­nity for com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dogs to get long over­due action on stored or dumped PCBs... Friends of the Earth hopes to hear from other con­cerned peo­ple about toxic messes that need to be cleaned up in their com­mu­ni­ties,” she says.

Mean­while, the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion is hold­ing a meet­ing at the Lions Club in Dildo this Thurs­day night, June 11. The meet­ing is be­ing held to up­date res­i­dents of com­mu­ni­ties from Markland to Green’s Har­bour who use the site, on work that has been car­ried out there and fur­ther work to be done.

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