County concerned about possible Middle Stewiacke asbestos project, requests assessment delay
MIDDLE STEWIACKE, N.S. – Colchester County is asking that an environmental assessment for an asbestos disposal site be temporarily halted.
On May 16, Colchester Containers Limited registered a Middle Stewiacke property for assessment. The public was notified that comments could be submitted until June 15, and the Nova Scotia minister of environment would decide, by July 5, whether the project would be approved.
Residents of the area, upset about such a facility operating in their community, held a public meeting last week. This week county council decided to wade in and write a letter to the minister.
“We’re classifying it as urgent and asking that the request be held in abeyance until new regulations from environment come in,” said Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair.
“We’re also asking that consideration be given to the site we already have in Kemptown instead of creating a new site. We have accepted asbestos there and have staff trained to deal with it. We follow very stringent rules and regulations.”
She said they’re also pointing out that the province didn’t include the Kemptown facility in its online list of asbestos waste disposal sites.
Ellen Durkee, a Middle Stewiacke resident, is concerned about the health risks.
“Airborne particles are a danger so one of the biggest worries is how they move it,” she said. “This site is on a hill and we don’t know how it might affect water that runs down and feeds wells. This doesn’t give us enough time to do research.
“The biggest shock is that this has been in the works and people weren’t told about it.”
Diane Redden, another Middle Stewiacke resident, said there are at least three brooks that run downhill from the site.
“If there’s a spill, how will it affect them? The information the company has is based on a dry time of year but sometimes there’s a lot of water on the ground in that area.
“I moved to the area to avoid pollution and I know others did too. There are issues, like who will take care of this site years from now, and some people have told me moose migrate through the area. There’s not enough time to assess this and make sure things are done properly.”
Colchester Containers, which is owned by John Ross & Sons Ltd., hopes to operate the asbestos disposal project on a 1.8 hectaresite along Highway 289, where construction and demolition waste is currently being dumped. It would have an expected operational life of 20 years.
If the project goes ahead, construction is expected to begin this summer.
“The environmental laws in Nova Scotia are weaker than anywhere else in Canada,” said Durkee. “We’ve got to think more about the health risks and we’ve got to stop burying everything that’s bad for us or there won’t be a piece of land in Nova Scotia fit to live on.”
A representative from John Ross & Son could not be reached for comment by press time.
Copies of the environmental assessment registration information can be seen at the Truro and Stewiacke libraries, Nova Scotia Environment- 36 Inglis Place and online at http://www.novascotia. ca/nse/ea.
For more information, visit the Nova Scotia Environment site at https://www.novascotia.ca/nse/ ea/asbestos_waste_ Disposal_ Cell_ Project.
“This site is on a hill and we don’t know how it might affect water that runs down and feeds wells. This doesn’t give us enough time to do research.” Ellen Durkee Middle Stewiacke