November 4, 2013

Article in The Oshawa Express - Oct 8

All quiet at former landfill

By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express
October 8, 2013

Located in the northeastern part of Oshawa, sitting beside a City dog park, lays the site of a former industrial landfill.

A recent report to the City’s Development Services Committee provided an update on the ex-dump. In short, not much is going on at the old garbage pile, including any development or environmental damage.

A letter from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) triggered the report, more than two years after the City wrote the province for input.

The City brought in Golder Associates to test the landfill site in 2011 for risks to public health and safety. Their report found that “there is no evidence that the former IDOL Site is currently causing an ‘adverse effect’” under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.

Golder recommended “additional monitoring, assessment, surveying and other work should be done at the site notwithstanding its opinion that no material adverse impacts are occurring at this time.” The cost to the City for the report was $1,500.

After City council received Golder’s findings, the City made a formal request to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for comments on the report and its recommendations.

That was in June 2011. The MOE responded midway through September of this year.

Phil Dunn, senior environmental officer for the York Durham District of the Ministry wrote a letter to the City apologizing for the delay and stating he was “in general agreement with the conclusions and recommendations.”

Dunn wrote, “The Ministry may consider an amendment to the Provisional Certificate of Approval that includes the monitoring and maintenance programs developed for the site.” He also advised the City he would be inspecting the landfill site and collecting surface water samples from Harmony Creek in “late September/early October.”

The Development Services Committee couldn’t help but notice the MOE’s slow response time.

“We’ve been monitoring this site for a number of years,” says Councillor Doug Sanders.  “I think the ministry needs to step up to the plate and monitor a little more.”

The MOE tested the site in 2011 and there were “no concerns,” says Development Services Commissioner Tom Hodgins. “The samples were reasonably positive. In the surface water we’ve never really had a significant reading to date.”

The Industrial Disposal Oshawa Landfill (IDOL) is located near the end of Rossland Road East near Grandview Street North, just south of the Harmony Valley Dog Park.

Golder’s report states the spot began its life as a commercial sand and gravel extraction pit. In 1957 it was converted into a landfill.

“Approximately 1,000,000 tonnes of industrial waste was landfilled in the Site between 1957 and 1980,” notes the report. It formally closed in 1985, and the MOE responded by issuing a certificate of approval to govern its future operations.

“It is again not fully clear as to what corporate entities may have contributed waste to the IDOL Site, although it is understood that General Motors of Canada utilized the Site for disposal of various waste materials generated in its Oshawa operations,” says Golder.

The site was sold in 1999, and again in 2003. Golder said there have been several other reports done on the landfill in the past, and in reviewing them they discovered some of the “landfill leachate” has begun to bleed through the southern slope of the site “in varying degrees” dating back to 1977 and beyond.

The landfill has recently been sold once more, says Hodgins. What the owners intend to do with the property is unknown.

“Right now we don’t have any actual development applications on the property,” he says.

The report on the landfill was received for information, with a reminder staff will continue to keep the Development Services Committee and council apprised of the situation and MOE correspondence.

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