CK keeps fighting Dresden landfill with new ammunition

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has submitted its second response to the landfill proposal by York1 for a waste management facility in Dresden and it has plenty of ammunition to put the process on hold or perhaps stop it.

CK's Chief Administrative Officer Michael Duben authored a letter asking for a suspension of the environmental compliance review for the project until the province decides it will undergo "a full and integrated environmental assessment."

Duben said technical experts hired by the municipality have concluded there's a lack of information and supporting studies, such as traffic, noise, air quality, dust, odour, and landfill gas impacts, along with geotechnical and hydrogeological assessments.

The municipality's technical expert said it's premature for the ministry to begin a technical review of the applications for environmental compliance approvals given the gaps in information and missing studies.

Duben also cited that York1 requires municipal planning approvals from the municipality before the project moves forward, adding that landfilling and waste processing, storage, and transfer are not permitted uses on the property under current zoning.

The municipality is asking York1 to consult with planning staff if it wishes to proceed with the proposed waste management facility.

The municipality noted land uses at the property are regulated by municipal zoning bylaws and since at least 1979, local zoning regulations have not listed a landfill or a waste processing facility as permitted uses at the site.

"York1 is relying on a speculative calculation of existing landfill capacity to avoid a full environmental assessment study process. This approach has the effect of mischaracterizing a major new landfill proposal as a continuation an existing landfill facility. This is not the case. York1 is proposing a new 1.6 million cubic metre facility to serve the entire Province. The existing approval is for discontinued, small scale local landfilling activities in scattered areas on the Subject Property. Mischaracterizing the York1 landfill proposal in this manner is contrary to the specific provisions and the purpose and intent of the Designation Regulation, which establishes a requirement that major new landfill proposals, or expansions to existing sites, are to be subject to a full environmental assessment under the EA Act," wrote Duben.

Last month, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks said she will be taking steps to require the Dresden project to complete a comprehensive environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act requiring York1 to address local community concerns and mitigate potential impacts before it could open.

The municipality said it's opposed to the facility, but supports a comprehensive environmental assessment study process and will be providing specific comments on the proposed designating regulation in response to the Ministry’s request for comments on or before May 10, 2024.

York1 is proposing a landfill with an estimated disposal capacity of 2.9 million tonnes and a proposed maximum fill rate of 365,000 tonnes per year.

The proposed hours of operation for the landfill are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week except for statutory holidays.

The waste processing facility would accept up to 6,000 tonnes of waste materials per day, including construction and demolition waste, metal, paper, cardboard, concrete, asphalt, block, brick, plastic drywall, asphalt, shingles, blue box recyclable materials, organics, asbestos-containing waste, tires, soil and “soil-like materials” including contaminated soils.

"The volume of waste and recyclable material to be received, amounting to over 2.5 million tonnes per year, would make the facility one of the busiest waste sites in the province, Duben wrote.

The municipality noted the proposed waste facility poses significant risks and potential long-term consequences for the community, including impacts to surface and ground water, natural heritage features and functions, and a substantial increase in truck traffic.

The municipality said York1's position that the landfill is an existing landfill and is exempt from an environmental assessment is "wrong both factually and in law" given the scale of the proposal has vastly increased from the historical landfill activities since 1967 when landfilling activities started.

"Based on the foregoing, and given the incomplete, piecemeal nature of the work presented to date, the Municipality has concluded that a more detailed technical review of the information provided to date by York1 is premature and of limited value."

Public comments can be submitted here until May 10, 2024.

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