Borough Says No Toxic Waste in LaSalle

September 27, 2013

I got an email this morning from Pierre Dupuis, the LaSalle borough’s communications director and clerk claiming there is no toxic waste in LaSalle.

He also sent a letter from Quebec’s Environment Ministry confirming that the Cintec Landfill Site in LaSalle will close in the next few months and that Cintec is responsible for the cell buried by the then-City of LaSalle in the 1980’s.

He wrote:

An e-mail we got from a LaSalle resident, concerned and worried after reading yesterday’s edition of The Suburban, triggered my attention.

I was very much surprised and almost puzzled after reading your very long article on page 2 and 9. You write a very long article, based exclusively on information provided to you by a citizen, without checking these facts with any other source of information.

You write an article with a question for title (Is there toxic waste in LaSalle?). Not only is this question easy to answer with a minimal research, but you don’t even answer it throughout your long article. Well, Tracey, the answer is no. There is no toxic waste in LaSalle.

Toxic waste is what you find in the numerous containers full of PCBs in Pointe-Claire, and that will eventually be incinerated in Alberta. What is safely contained since 1990 in the cells at Cintec in LaSalle is the contaminated earth from the land rehabilitation of two sites in LaSalle at the end of the 1980’s. This information is pretty easy to find and to verify.

The citizen you interviewed has the right to not believe any government or officials sources about Cintec. But I would have expected you to at least complete this article with an official point of view about what is a very public and well documented topic, instead of basing your story exclusively on this citizen’s perception. Why haven’t you contacted Cintec Environnement, the company in charge of this site? I assume they would have answered all your questions about their activities. And why haven’t you checked with the ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, which is responsible for all environmental issues, to get facts from them about this site they know very well?

At any rate, here’s some information I would have provided you with, should you have contacted me, as you usually do for a topic related to LaSalle. Even if the Cintec site is not under the Borough’s jurisdiction, we obviously know quite a bit about it. I also attach copy of a letter the Borough got from the ministère de l’environnement in August, after the Mayor asked for another official proof from them that everything is safe at the Cintec site.

When I was a journalism student at Concordia, our teachers (very experienced former journalists from CBC, The Gazette and even the Montreal Star – that was back in the 80’s) always told us that you should never base an article on only one source of information or point of view. I think that was good advice. With this information included, I’m sure your readers would have found your article more complete, if not more balanced. And the resident who wrote to us would have been less worried about what’s going on at this site.

MinistryofEnvironment20130830

COURTESY TRANSLATION

  Montréal, August 30, 2013

 Mrs. Manon Barbe
Mayor of LaSalle
Borough of LaSalle
55, avenue Dupras
Montréal (Québec)  H8R 4A8

 Subject: Cintec landfill site

Dear Mrs. Barbe:

We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 14, 2013, regarding the concerns of a Borough of LaSalle resident.

During the eighties, a number of soil characterization and rehabilitation operations related to the former LaSalle Coke plant and the former LaSalle disposal site were in fact carried out. This enormous rehabilitation project began with an order sent to a company to ensure respect for “Ville LaSalle residents’ entitlement to a quality environment, to its protection and to safeguarding the living species inhabiting that area”. This rehabilitation project preceded the Policy on soil protection and rehabilitation of contaminated lands.

During the work carried out to rehabilitate these lands, the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) authorized all the excavation work, the treatment of contaminated waters and the construction of cells, pursuant to the Environment Quality Act. It is in this context that the LaSalle landfill site was set up. This cell was closed in 1990. The same year, MDDEFP authorized setting up a new contaminated soil landfill cell at Cintec Environnement inc. (CEI), on land adjacent to the LaSalle cell that was closed.

Today, the CEI cell includes the LaSalle cell and the cell authorized in 1990. The LaSalle cell is still closed and forms part of the CEI cell.

The entire CEI cell is subject to the Regulation respecting the burial of contaminated soils, which came into effect in 2001. The operator of a contaminated soil burial site must comply with the applicable requirements and, more specifically, with the Regulation’s Division III, entitled “OPERATION”. Inspections are carried out at this site by the Centre de Contrôle environnemental du Québec. According to our register, no failures to comply with the Regulation were sent to Cintec Environnement inc. in the past five years.

When landfill operations at the active cell come to a halt, as planned in the coming months, CEI will then close the cell in accordance with the Regulation’s Division V, entitled “FINAL COVER AND CLOSURE”. After the cell is closed, CEI will have to comply with the requirements in the Regulation’s Division VI, entitled “POST-CLOSURE PERIOD”.

With regard to the atmospheric emissions and the wastewater disposal into the sewer, we suggest you contact Ville de Montréal’s Division Contrôle des rejets industriels, which looks after enforcing Bylaw 90 and Bylaw 2008-47 of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal.

Yours truly,

(signed:) Hélène Proteau

La directrice régionale

HP/gg

He also included the following information:

Geomembranes at Cintec Site

Characteristics of Cintec Environnement Inc. Contaminated Soil Landfill Cells in LaSalle

  • Since 1990, Cintec’s contaminated soil landfill cells in LaSalle have contained contaminated earth removed from the former LaSalle Coke site and the former waste disposal site in LaSalle.
  • These cells contain contaminated earth, which can be legally buried in leakproof cells, in accordance with current standards, and do not contain toxic waste, which cannot be buried, but rather, must be incinerated by a specialized firm in Alberta, as was the case of the PCBs in Saint-Basile-Le-Grand in 1988 and as will most likely be the case with the PCBs in Pointe-Claire.
  • As all installations of this type, the Cintec site comes under provincial jurisdiction, (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des parcs) and not municipal.
  • The operator of the site must ensure monitoring of the contents of the cell for 30 years after the closure of the cell. The operator must look after maintenance of the integrity of the final cover of the soils, monitoring and maintenance of the equipment that collects and treats the liquids circulating in the contaminated earth, the follow-up and monitoring equipment for surface and groundwater as well as the gas collection system.
  • Before the end of the 30th year of closure, the operator must have a certified, independent professional prepare an assessment of the condition of the landfill site and have it forwarded to the Minister.
  • The operation of a landfill site is subject to the provision, by the operator, of security intended to ensure—during operations and after closure—the fulfilment of the obligations that the operator must meet under the Environment Quality Act.
  • The amount of this security is established on the basis of $2 per metric ton, according to the total landfill capacity. At the present time, we estimate that there is $2 million in this fund.
  • The operator has legal obligations to the Ministère de l’environnement du Québec, which remains responsible for the site in case of any problems.

Studies

Studies have been carried out with regard to the service life of the geomembranes used in the landfill sites:

  • In a study commissioned by the Ministère de l’Environnement du Québec on these membranes, the various engineers who reported on the study indicated: “An HDPE membrane installed in an urban waste landfill site to waterproof the bottom, the walls and serve as a roof, being protected from climate stresses, will retain its properties for a very long period of time. This period of time has been evaluated by a working committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which decided that HDPE membranes ‘should maintain their integrity in waste disposal facility environments in terms of hundreds of years’.” These findings are corroborated by other assessments as well.
  • A Canadian study reported by professors from Western University states: “Predictive modelling carried out in respect of the proposed York/Metro site indicates that a design consisting of two composite liners underlain by a gradient control layer and a reworked/recompacted soil layer is required in order to achieve Ontario’s Reasonable Use and Engineered Facilities policies performance standards when consideration is given to the finite service life of geomembrane liners (with 150 year anticipated service life for the primary geomembrane liner and in excess of 200 years for the secondary liner adopted in modelling of potential impact.”
  • A 3rd study on the service life of HDPE membranes, which was carried out by  Queen’s University, indicates: “When the temperature decreases to 20ºC, this time will increase to 200 years. Using the three-stage degradation model, Rowe (1998) reanalyzed the data reported by Hsuan and Kroener (1995) and estimated that the service life of HDPE geomembrane in landfill applications would be about 150 years for the primary geomembrane at <25ºC while for the secondary geomembrane it would be expected to exceed 300 years at 15ºC and 400 years at 10ºC.”

http://canlii.org/en/qc/laws/regu/rrq-c-q-2-r-18/latest/rrq-c-q-2-r-18.html

Source:

Pierre Dupuis, directeur Affaires publiques et Greffe, Borough of LaSalle, Ville de Montréal, September 2013

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Tracey Arial

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  • With regards to the response received by the Minister of Environment, after carefully reading the answers given by the environment minister versus the assumptions made by Pierre Dupuis ( in his respone to Tracey Arials article featured in The Suburban named “is there toxic waste in LaSalle”, ) I do not see how the borough of LaSalle can confidently say that there is no toxic waste in lasalle.

    When reading the environment ministers response it is evident that there are no environmental reports or any indication (including any solid evidence) attached to their letter stating in black and white (without doubt) that, “there is no toxic waste in Lasalle”.

    With the whole debate surrounding toxic waste in LaSalle,, is it safe to asume that the environment minister cannot state “there is no toxic waste in LaSalle” in writing for the simple fact that your statements and claims are incorrect ?

    What the environment ministers letter states is that there is multiple sealed cells containing contaminated soil buried on the Cintec grounds since 1990.. So I ask,, Is the soil contaminated with orange juice???

    What contaminants are in the sealed cell since 1990 that had to be buried and sealed,, the same cell that serves to contain all the toxic substances excavated in 1986 from the former LaSalle municipal dump discovered between Belec and Sylvestre streets?

    What contaminants are in the Cintec cell that is to be sealed in the following months, the same cell that has been stock piling contaminated soil for close to 25 years to date ? Why is Cintec refusing to provide the inventory report of contaminants in these cells until the final closure of this contaminated site as stated by Serge Gariepy, Executive at CINTEC ???

    Why does the borough of LaSalle fail to mention the Solutia site which is adjacent to the Cintec site? It is no secret that the solutia site is very badly contaminated (both the soil and ground water) with pcb’s, arsenic and many other contaminants .. This site is so badly contaminated that it cannot be used until major decontamination is completed.. Mr Dupuis, last time I checked PCBs and arsenic are considered to be VERY TOXIC WASTE !!!.

    Mr Dupuis, with this said, I think your comments are misinformed and improperly researched (without due dilligence) since there is indeed toxic waste on the Solutia site (according to the Quebec environment ministers register of contaminated land), including contaminated land in many other sites across LaSalle not mentioned in these articles.

    The answer given by the environment minister says it all but in no way does the minister state in writing that “there is no toxic waste in LaSalle”… this is the assumption that you and the borough have maintained without sufficient evidence to backup your claims since April 2013, the first time I questioned mayor Barbe.

    May I also add that Mayor Manon Barbe has stated “there is no toxic waste in LaSalle since April 2013 without proper proof provided by the Quebec Environment ministry. . it is also no secret that the mayor returned on her words in August 2013 by stating she is not sure if there is toxic waste in Lasalle and that she must send a request of access to information to the Minister in order to find out exactly what is contained in the cells…may I remind you that the letter and responses do not state what contaminants are found in the cells…

    If mayor Manon Barbe wasn’t sure in August 2013 that there is toxic waste in Lasalle, why would she answer the question in April 2013 that there is no toxic waste in lasalle going as far as accusing me of misinforning the public in every attempt to discredit my version of the story???

    is it safe to assume that the mayor has misinformed herself and the public by making claims that she or your administration have no solid evidence to back up ?

    Mr Dupuis and Mayor Barbe, for your information, the answer is YES,( according to the environment ministers contaminated land registry) ,, there is INDEED toxic waste present in LaSalle. .

    THE TRUE QUESTION HERE:

    Is the borough of LaSalle playing politics and semantics before the 2013 elections,,,?

    We will soon find out…

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