November 15, 2009

Landfill listed as 'outstanding item' by City's Development Services Committee - Oct 26

City of Oshawa
Retrieved from:

Development Services Committee - October 26, 2009

Development Services Committee's Outstanding Items Status Report

Item #50
Subject: Sarah Ross - Requesting to Address Committee Regarding Leachate at the Harmony Creek Landfill
Origin: DSC - June 9/08, DS-08-238
Direction/Comments: Referred to staff to obtain an update from the MOE and to work with other agencies, including CLOCA, and to report back.
Department Responsible: DS
Expected Response: Fourth Quarter 2009 (Awaiting info from MOE)

Item #51
Subject: Phil Dunn, Ministry of Environment Summary of the Former Industrial Disposal
(Oshawa) Landfill (IDOL)
Origin: DSC-Nov 13/08, DS-08-489
Direction/Comments: That staff continue to monitor the situation and report back when appropriate.
Department Responsible: DS
Expected Response: Fourth Quarter (Awaiting info from MOE)

July 22, 2009

Article in Oshawa This Week - July 22

More concerns about north Oshawa landfill after dog collapses
Family dog becomes violently ill after diving into orange water, MOE says no health threat.

Oshawa This Week
By Jillian Follert
July 22, 2009

OSHAWA -- Mark and Jackie Randall have been taking their dog Bosco to Oshawa's Harmony Valley Park since he was a puppy.

But they will think twice before returning, after a frightening experience left them questioning the safety of an old landfill that sits adjacent to the park.

On June 19, Mr. Randall and the family's four-year-old golden retriever were walking along the border between the park and the private property where a decommissioned landfill lies concealed beneath a hill.

"Bosco saw a frog and chased it into a water hole; the water was a weird orange colour," Ms. Randall said. "All of a sudden he stumbled out with orange all over his face. He dropped to the ground and started vomiting and having diarrhea. His eyes rolled up in his head and he wasn't moving."

Mr. Randall and his son locked arms and carried the 95-pound dog to the car, then rushed him to the vet.

"The vet couldn't determine what caused it, we're waiting for more blood tests next month," Ms. Randall said. "But he's still having health issues. He was perfectly healthy before this. We're just horrified by what happened."

Concerns about the landfill are nothing new.

Residents have been questioning the orange-tinted water and orange stains on the ground for years. Oshawa council has been in touch with the Ministry of the Environment several times about the issue.

But, the MOE maintains there is no threat to human -- or animal -- health.

"This orange staining is typical of older landfills and indicates elevated iron levels which can lead to growth of iron bacteria above typical background numbers. While both iron and iron bacteria are naturally occurring and not likely to result in health impacts, standing water may collect local runoff and promote other bacterial and insect growth," reads a letter the MOE sent to the Randall family.

The landfill sits near the corner of Harmony Road North and Rossland Road East, with Harmony Valley Park on one side and a residential subdivision on the other. It was originally owned by Industrial Disposal Oshawa Limited and operated from 1957 to 1980, when it was sealed.

When it was operational, the 35-acre site accepted about one million tonnes of solid commercial and industrial waste, primarily from General Motors. A 1992 Ontario Municipal Board decision said liquid waste dumped in the landfill included paint sludge, anti-freeze, brake fluid, hydraulic oils and isopropyl alcohol.

The property is now owned by Jim Sinclair, a Mississauga developer who has been convicted on numerous environmental charges. Attempts by This Week to contact him were unsuccessful.

Last fall, the MOE issued Mr. Sinclair an order requiring him to repair seepage on the property.

MOE spokesman Lindsay Davidson said the work was completed in April -- the ground was excavated, new drains were installed to redirect groundwater flow and fencing was installed on the east side of the site.

No other orders have been issued.

"The owner is voluntarily complying with the Ministry requirements," Mr. Davidson said.

As for the Bosco's illness, he said MOE staff sampled the ground and surface water and reported no evidence of off-site impact.

But that hasn't allayed the Randall family's concern -- they want to see signs posted warning park users about the landfill.

"I'm just a lay person, I don't know anything about the levels of toxins or chemicals, but I do know that our dog got very sick after being in that water," Ms. Randall said. "We just want someone to take this seriously."

A comment left on the Oshawa This Week webstite (July 22, 5:19pm)
My dog was sick as well!
I take my dog to the park almost everyday and have been since he was a puppy. Recently he developed and was treated for a hot spot and I was suspicious that it may have had something to do with the water. He also became sick last week with vomiting and diarrhea but has since recovered. This is a major concern for the community. When talking to fellow dog walkers there is a general understanding that the water is regularly tested and deemed safe, but this is obviously not the case. Its a shame that this is happening after people have fought so hard to reserve this leash-free area. My heart goes out to Bosco and the Randall family for having to deal with this very scary situation. Something definitely needs to be done regarding this issue. There is a strong following of dog lovers that use this park frequently and will be demanding answers!

Article in Belleville Intelligencer - April 16

Sinclair appeal remains up in air

The Belleville Intelligencer
Posted by Luke Henry
April 16, 2009

Convicted polluter Jim Sinclair will have to wait a little longer to learn the outcome of his appeal.

Sinclair and his two companies, Demolition and Recycling Inc. and Thermosets Ltd., are appealing a 2008 conviction on charges linked to Sinclair's development of the former Bakelite property.

He received a four-month sentence and $690,000 in fines.

The former factory site on Dundas Street East at Haig Road was contaminated with toxins such as PCBs.

Sinclair and his companies were convicted of failing to comply with numerous orders from provincial authorities and other related charges.

In a three-hour hearing in Belleville Wednesday, Crown attorney Jerry Herlihy and defence lawyer Gabrielle Kramer eir appeal submissions before Justice Rommel Masse.

They debated matters including whether Sinclair -- who at trial had represented himself received a fair trial, was treated fairly under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and received a proper sentence.

Herlihy said Sinclair "assumed the risk" of representing himself and "efforts were made to ensure he got a fair trial."

He described Sinclair, though, as a man who held no respect for environmental authorities. Most of the charges on which Sinclair was convicted were failures to comply with orders, Herlihy said.

"The answer, really, from Mr. Sinclair was, 'We're not going to,'" he said. "It was clear he wasn't going to listen."

Herlihy also said Sinclair had break the rules even after he was charged.

"These appellants transformed a marshland into a moonscape," said Herlihy. "It remains unrepaired to this date. These offences were 100 per cent deliberate."

He said Sinclair scoffed that the International Joint Commission, a Canada-United States body overseeing shared waters, "sounds like a pot-smoking party."

"It was clear ... that Mr. Sinclair just doesn't get it," said Herlihy, who ended his two-hour submission by saying the concurrent jail sentences he received were "generous" but "fit."

Kramer countered many of Herlihy's statements, saying Sinclair and his one-man businesses had acted responsibly in removing PCBs from the site and attempting to keep them from flowing off the property and into the Bay of Quinte.

"They were clearly taking active and significant steps to prevent the movement of materials off the site," Kramer said.

She said her client's attitude was commended by Justice Geoff Griffin, charging any bad behaviour was because there were "significant abuses" of his charter rights and Sinclair was under great stress. She said investigators had breached Sinclair's rights by sharing information once investigations had been launched.

Kramer said there was no evidence Sinclair's offences stretched on for the 13-month period described by the Crown and that Sinclair and his companies tried to comply with government orders.

"The defendants were doing their best as a one-man company to meet the demands of the (Ministry of Environment)," she said, adding Sinclair "could not have anticipated" the amount of contamination on his property.

Kramer said there were "significant procedural defects" during past court proceedings and asked Masse to either order a new trial or "impose a fit and proper decision."

Masse noted the need for him to review lengthy court transcripts amid a tight schedule, saying he'd be writing his decision "on evenings and weekends."

He pledged to try to render a decision in a timely manner, but no date for the next hearing was set.

"Don't hold your breath," he said wryly.

Sinclair remains free on bail without conditions.

March 17, 2009

Application for Investigation

The Application for Investigation was submitted to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario on October 27, 2008 and accepted for investigation by the Ministry of Environment in early January 2009. A timeline of the process (and the outcome) is below:

October 27, 2008 - Application for Investigation was submitted to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. The Application is available online at

October 30 - Application was referred to Ministry of Environment for consideration.

November 3 - Letter from Ministry of Environment acknowledging receipt of Application. Staff have until January to issue a response - whether they refuse to conduct an investigation.

January 2009 - The Ministry of Environment has decided to investigate the Harmony landfill! This is a promising step forward, because it means provincial attention will be focused on the 'crimes' on this site and potentially hold someone accountable.

March 2009 - The investigation by the Ministry of Environment should now be complete. A response is due in early April, describing their findings.

April 2009 - A letter was received from the MOE detaining their findings. The results of the EBR investigation by MOE staff "do not support the allegation that the onsite leachate seepage is a violation of Sections 6 and 14 of the Environmental Protection Act or that the owner failed to notify the ministry in violation of Section 15 of the Act". Details from the decision can be found online at

A summary from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's website:
Review of Application I2008011: Alleged Contraventions of the Environmental Protection Act at the Oshawa Landfill/Application for Investigation of Rossland Acres Inc. (Investigation Undertaken by Ministry of the Environment)

Background/Summary of Issues
On October 27, 2008, the applicants requested that the Ministry of Environment (MOE) investigate a possible leachate leakage at the former Industrial Disposal (Oshawa) Limited landfill site, now owned by Rossland Acres Inc. They provided evidence in the form of photographs, showing that over the spring and summer of 2008 an orange-coloured liquid was seeping from the ground on the south-facing side of the site, which has been closed since 1985. They also provided test results for three sets of soil and water samples taken from the affected site over this period of time. The tests revealed levels of several contaminants above both national and provincial guidelines for both soil and water. The applicants argued that the discharges had impaired the quality of the natural environment and might have also rendered the property, plants and animals unfit for human use. They also pointed out that the site is in close proximity to a residential development and that many people walk their dogs in the area. The applicants alleged that the owner of the site was in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) in two ways: first, by allowing the discharge of a substance into the environment that may be causing an adverse effect; and secondly, by failing to report this discharge to the MOE.

Ministry Response
After reviewing the application, the ministry decided on January 3, 2009, to investigate. The investigation included further testing of samples collected from the site by the owner, testing of samples taken from Harmony Creek (which flows just south of the site) by the ministry, and meetings with the owner on the site to examine the leachate discharges and discuss remediation measures. The ministry concluded that their investigation did not indicate that the discharge was causing or could cause an adverse effect and that the owner was not in contravention of the EPA, either for allowing the discharge or for failing to report it to the MOE. The ministry also stated that although no offence had been committed, it recognizes the significant concern regarding this issue and will therefore carry out the following activities: a comprehensive examination of the company’s compliance with the requirements of their provisional Certificate of Approval (C of A); surface and groundwater sampling at the site and surface sampling of Harmony Creek; and continued communication with the company to ensure that the latter takes action with respect to mitigating any risks associated with the seepage, repairing the seepage, and addressing its source.

ECO Comment
MOE has promised to report back to the applicants in three months (July, 2009) with the results of these further investigations and activities. The ECO will be monitoring this case and will review the outcome of this application for our 2009-2010 reporting year.

The Environmental Commissioner's 2009-2010 Annual Report has a large section on concerns over landfills in the province, "Aging Landfills: Ontario’s Forgotten Polluters" (page 126-131)

Article in the Belleville Intelligencer - March 14

Sinclair appeal adjourned to April 15
TRIAL: Environmental polluter was sentenced in December to four months in jail

The Belleville Intelligencer
Posted by Shelby Parker
March 14, 2009

A lengthy argument by defence prevented the Crown from making its arguments in an appeal by convicted environmental polluter Jim Sinclair in Belleville court Friday.

Sinclair's defence wrapped up its case at 5 p. m., preventing the Crown from making its statements.

The appeal resumes April 15.

Crown attorney Jerry Herlihy said he'd hoped to have wrapped up on Friday.

"We didn't anticipate that," he said.

Defence lawyer Gabrielle Kramer spoke to the court that various elements of the Sinclair trial and sentencing deemed, "unfair."

January 28, 2009

Busted: Investigating environmental crimes - A radio show by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper - Jan 28

Have a listen to this week's Living at the Barricades, titled Busted: investigating environmental crimes. It features a discussion of the investigation of the Ministry of Environment into the Harmony landfill. The show is described as:

This week Mark and Krystyn question the existence of a two-tiered law enforcement system for environmental crime: one for “urban” areas and one for “pristine” areas. We revisit an Application for Investigation Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted in Cobourg, where the government decided not to take action. We also look at another case in Oshawa, where the Ministry of the Environment has decided to investigate the Harmony landfill.

Available online at