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.