November 14, 2008

Article in Oshawa This Week - Nov 13

Efforts underway to clean up north Oshawa landfill
Oshawa site owned by developer convicted of environmental offences

Oshawa This Week
By Jillian Follert
November 13, 2008

OSHAWA -- Months after residents raised the alarm about "orange goo" seeping from a north Oshawa landfill, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has told the owner to clean up his act.

Jim Sinclair -- a Mississauga developer who has been convicted on numerous environmental charges -- has owned the Oshawa landfill since 2003 but MOE only recently confirmed his association with the site.

The landfill has been front and centre on the minds of north Oshawa residents since the summer, when cyclists and dog walkers wandering over from Harmony Valley Park noticed an orange substance staining the ground.

MOE officials say the rust-coloured streaks are harmless iron staining that pose no threat to human health.

But politicians want more done to guarantee things are safe.

"We want to know that the MOE is being absolutely diligent with their oversight," said Councillor Louise Parkes, who chairs council's development services committee. "We're most concerned with the potential movement of water below ground."

The committee received a report from MOE this week, which says Mr. Sinclair was issued a draft provincial officer's order Oct. 24 requiring him to repair the seepage that has taken place and erect fencing around the site.

MOE spokeswoman Kate Jordan said a draft order precedes an official order.

Normally, an official order would follow, but in this case, the owner is voluntarily complying and has already submitted a remedial action plan outlining steps that will be completed by Nov. 21, she said.

They include repairing the seepage, erecting a fence and creating a future plan for ground and surface water monitoring.

"We'll review the action plan and make sure it satisfies the work we want to be done," Ms. Jordan said, adding the site is not a health threat.

"All the monitoring that has been done to date shows no potential for off-site impact. The staining and seepage is all contained on the site."

The landfill is located near the corner of Harmony Road North and Rossland Road East, with Harmony Valley Park on one side, and a large residential subdivision on the other.

The site was initially owned by Industrial Disposal Oshawa Limited (IDOL) and operated as a landfill from 1957 to 1980, when it was sealed.

When it was operational, the 35-acre landfill accepted solid commercial and industrial waste, primarily from General Motors. A recent report from MOE says about one million tonnes of industrial waste was landfilled on the site during those years.

The property was sold in 1999, then sold again in 2003 to current owner Rossland Acres Inc., which lists Jim Sinclair as one of its officers.

Earlier this year, Mr. Sinclair was convicted on several environmental charges related to the development of a former factory site in Belleville.

A court ruling said his work on the site resulted in contaminants seeping into the Bay of Quinte and the destruction of marshlands and other environmentally sensitive areas on the property.

Mr. Sinclair was ordered to pay $235,000 in fines. He has appealed that decision and is still waiting to be sentenced on other convictions.

Repeated efforts to reach Mr. Sinclair were unsuccessful.

The October draft order wasn't the first time the ministry has asked Mr. Sinclair to address issues at the Oshawa landfill.

"Ministry staff have met on site with Mr. Sinclair on several occasions to discuss required work to remediate the seepage and direct it into the on site perimeter leachate collection system," reads the summary councilors received this week. "The company made repairs to the area of seepage in mid-July 2008. During subsequent inspections by ministry staff, iron staining and seepage was again observed."

The development services committee voted to send a letter to MOE, asking that the issue be pursued further.

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