Reply to Taggart-Miller Environmental Services' Propaganda

Reply to Taggart-Miller Environmental Services' Propaganda
Posted on November 6, 2013 | Joe Wallach | Written on November 6, 2013
Letter type:

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

Taggart-Miller Environmental Services intends to develop a landfill in the eastern part of Ottawa and have placed on their website a newsletter which is misleading.

Taggart-Miller Environmental Services (TMES) posted a propaganda-laden newsletter, entitled “Fall 2013 Newsletter” on their website at Page 1 of the newsletter features a message from Hubert Bourque, project manager. The contents of that 2-page newsletter are very important to people who live in the vicinity of the Boundary Road site including within, and in the areas surrounding, the villages of Carlsbad Springs, Edwards and Vars. In short that newsletter must be read very carefully and the credibility of the claims and promises must be checked with extreme attention to detail. One example, made by the project manager Hubert Bourque on page 1 of the newsletter, is addressed here.

Contrary to Hubert Bourque’s claim that the Boundary Road site is excellent, it is anything but in a geoscientific context. It is located in one of the most seismically active zones in Canada, the Western Quebec Seismic Zone, in which felt reports and instrumentation have documented earthquakes as large as magnitude 6.25. Larger, nearby earthquakes have been inferred from geological work done by geologists with the Geological Survey of Canada. Earthquakes that have produced damage to buildings occurred in Cornwall, and within about 10 km of the currently proposed site.

The soil at the site has been classified by other Geological Survey of Canada geologists as falling into the group of soils, within the city of Ottawa, most susceptible to earthquake-induced shaking. It is largely clay and, despite the contention by Hubert Bourque that the clay will protect the groundwater, most of the soil is already beneath the surface to which unconfined groundwater will rise, which means that the soil is already, or will be, in the groundwater. From water-well data available from MOE the static level of water in wells near the site is at a depth of 3 m. If TMES wishes to dispute that information they are invited to do so, but with evidence.

Bourque’s contention that the dump “can be operated in compliance with all Ministry of the Environment requirements” ignores a major point. Before a site can be operated, that is before construction on a site can even begin, it must be demonstrated that the risk of locating a landfill at that site will not be unacceptably high based on rigorous geoscientific, biological, air quality and health studies. The Ministry of the Environment has set some requirements, but all are focused exclusively on the site, and ignore the region completely. That may not seem unreasonable, but consider the case of contaminated groundwater. Once it flows it does not just stop at the property line, but it keeps on going. Where it will go cannot be known without the necessary studies. Earthquakes that happen some distance away from a site could damage the landfill because of liquefaction, and the soils at that site are highly prone to liquefaction. What are the chances of any nearby faults being active today and producing a damaging earthquake? No one will know unless dedicated studies are undertaken in the region.

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has no requirements for investigations related to understanding where contaminated groundwater will flow once it leaves the site and which faults in the region may produce landfill-damaging earthquakes. In the area of Boundary Rd. site the damaging-earthquake scenario is real, both because of the occurrences of earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater, and the horribly weak soil at the site! It is essential that MOE order landfill proponents to carry out very careful regional geological studies. Until that happens TMES can continue to make ludicrous claims about adhering to the “rigorous” standards of MOE.

Joe Wallach

About The Author

I have trained as a geologist and worked for the federal nuclear regulatory agency, formerly named the Atomic Energy Control Board