Expert panel tours site of proposed mega dump
The former site of Carmeuse Lime's quarry in Beachville, a proposed new landfill site. (File photo)
An expert technical panel keeping tabs on a controversial landfill site proposed by Walker Industries say they have taken “important first steps” in their environmental assessment inquiry, including a tour of the Carmeuse quarry in Zorra Township.
“As a team it was out first opportunity to get together and collectively view the site,” said peer view team leader Chris Haussmann in a phone interview on Wednesday morning. “It’s a complex site, it’s a large quarry with operations that will be ongoing.”
Led by Haussmann of Haussman Consulting Inc., the panel, paid for but independent of Walker, is comprised of professional advisers and consultants appointed by Oxford municipalities.
The 17-member panel’s first meeting with Walker Environmental Group, which took place on March 12, included the tour of what could become Canada’s fourth largest landfill.
“We got a sense of the site itself, as well as the surrounding community,” Haussmann said.
The team’s task, likely to take several years to complete, is to conduct a technical review of the environmental assessment study that Walker is required to conduct beginning with the terms of reference.
The team includes experts in municipal finance, environmental assessments, land use, air quality and emissions, noise and vibration, landfill design, geotechnical, surface and ground water, legal issues, ecosystems, traffic and agricultural impacts, and the public consultation process.
Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL), a grassroots group opposing the mega dump, has responded positively to the peer review team saying, “it is in the best interest of area citizens to receive as much information as possible.”
"Hopefully, the peer review team found it enlightening to tour the proposed landfill site, see its unique geology and appreciate exactly how close the site is to residential areas and well-head protection zones,” wrote OPAL chairperson Steve McSwiggan in an e-mail. “Increasingly, local residents are telling OPAL they believe they won't be able to live on and enjoy their properties that are within sight and sniffing distance of the proposed dump, should it be approved. The PRT needs to know just what is at stake here.”
Haussmann said the team’s first steps will be to review Walker’s terms of reference for the environmental assessment — which must receive the province’s approval before the landfill can move forward — through an intensive set of checks and balances.
“It’s a very important document, it sets the roadmap going forward,” he said.
A draft for the terms of reference, with comments from the peer review team, is slated to go to the Ministry of Environment in May.
It will then be released for review again by technical team, the affected municipalities and the public.
Later this year the expert panel can submit their final report on the terms of reference, outlining issues that may or may not have been resolved with Walker, before it submitted again to the province before being finalized later this year.
Meanwhile, OPAL has said it is pursuing its own independent review of the terms of reference through their own independent experts, funded through donations and fundraising.
They are also receiving legal assistance through the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
Haussmann met with the Joint Municipal Coordinating Committee (JMCC), made up of council heads and CAOs from Aorra, Ingersoll, SWOX and Oxford County, on March 25 to report the results of their first meeting with Walker.