Darren Fry, director of strategic growth with Walker Environmental Group, holds one of the bore samples drilled in the area of the company’s South West landfill proposal site in the Township of Zorra. The company hosted an open house at its Ingersoll office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week to keep the public up-to-date on where the proposal is at in the process. JOHN TAPLEY/INGERSOLL TIMES
Commencing the technical studies for the environmental assessment of its South West Landfill proposal, Walker Environmental Group held an open house at its Ingersoll office to keep the public abreast of where things are at.
Held Tuesday through Thursday, the open house was aimed at keeping people informed on the status of the environmental assessment for the proposed landfill in the Township of Zorra on the border of Ingersoll and listen to input, said Darren Fry, director of strategic growth with Walker.
“We wanted to make sure people were informed of the field work that will be conducted in the community over the next 12 months or so,” he said. “We’re really in the information gathering stage right now.”
The purpose of the technical studies is to collect data on the existing environmental conditions.
In all, 13 studies will be conducted, including agricultural, air quality, archaeology, cultural heritage, ecology, economic, ground water and surface water, human health risk, noise and vibration, social, traffic and visual.
Some of the field work that will begin the area of the proposed landfill in the coming weeks include borehole drilling to monitor and study groundwater flow and quality, geology and soil conditions. There will be an inventory of surface water uses and local surface water flow and quality will be monitored.
When it comes to traffic, there will be site visits along the preferred haul route to catalogue its characteristics and conditions, including road characteristics and residential/commercial driveways.
Ecology will include an initial survey to identify terrestrial species and habitat. Field date will be collected throughout all four seasons, including a floral survey, species at risk/rare species, breeding bird surveys, amphibian visual and auditory surveys and landscape surveys using aerial photography.
The visual study will photograph viewpoints where the site is visible once leaves have fallen from the trees and there is a potential for change as a result of the landfill.
Some of the documentation will be multi-source, combining traffic, noise and visual data to assess the combined impact the landfill could have.
There will also be multi-stressor tests studying potential cumulative effects of existing environmental conditions with things like increased traffic and future or other industrial traffic.
“We develop an understanding of the existing environmental conditions and we’ll look at the landfill and overlay that to get the environmental impacts,” Fry said.
From there, the company can work on mitigating any impacts, leading up to a target date of submitted the environmental assessment report in early 2019, he said.
While ground water protection was the number one issue raised during the open house, Fry said there were also questions about potential nuisances stemming from the project, including attracting seagulls and litter and the open house provided information about how those issues are addressed.
People who attended the open house also raised concerns about what would happen if the liner under the landfill designed to prevent contaminated water from leaving the site failed.
“I think that’s a fair question to ask,” Fry said.
He had a sample of liner at the open house for visitors to handle and he explained that the government requires the company must have contingencies in place to protect ground water – physical as well as financial.
“We have to demonstrate viable contingencies,” he said. “Ontario has some of the most stringent water protection and landfill liner requirements in North America.”
Fry said on a personal level if he lived near a proposed landfill site he would want to be informed.
“I would want to be engaged,” he said. “I would be sitting down with the proponent and understanding the facts of the proposal and I would want my concerns heard and I would want to know what’s being done to mitigate those concerns.”
Fry said that while there weren’t that many people at the open house there were “some really constructive conversations.”
“It’s provided a valuable venue for one-on-one conversations.”
Fry said Walker plans to continue hosting open house events to keep the public up-to-date and he noted that the company’s Ingersoll office is open five days a week.
“We would like to see more folks come out and share their views and learn more about the project,” he said.
The full details of the environmental assessment field studies and other information about the proposal can be found on the internet at: www.walkerea.com