Project Details - Risks Français

The Danford Lake landfill site is a huge and a long term project. A go-ahead for the promoters is effectively a 50 year contract between the Municipality and the operators, or their successors. Experience at other sites has shown that there is no going back. Even where landfills are horribly and illegally managed, to the detriment of all who live near them, it is proving practically impossible to shut them down. This megadump will actually be present for more than a thousand years before the site starts to return to normal. It will change not only the lives of the people living around it now, but also the lives of their children, their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s children. Look at the risks. And decide if these chances are worth taking, in order to get a few jobs.

Site Location
The proposed site is located on the worst possible substrate: sand and gravel. Liquids move quickly through this type of material. And the groundwater in some places is only 3 m. from the surface. Experts agree that there is no existing failsafe technology that would guarantee the protection of the underground water. Back to top
Contamination Of Surface And Groundwater

Plans for the site call for two drainage layers, and two High Density Polyethylene geomembranes to contain any leakage, as well as various “quality assurance programs” involving technical monitoring. However experience at other landfills, and an extensive data search, show that:
  1. All liners ultimately leak, even at the very best engineered landfill sites. (See the Environment Canada website for a description of why, and what the effects are upon the environment). In fact the American Society of Civil Engineers says that, even in pristine conditions liners made of high density polyethylene can be expected to leak at the rate of 200 litres per hectare per day. But the liners do not stay in pristine conditions for long. They are often perforated by the garbage or the equipment handling it. Even if not perforated, over time the liners degrade and ultimately dissolve. LDC’s own technicians have admitted that their liners have a lifetime of only 25 years…..the garbage, unfortunately, has a lifetime of hundreds.

  2. Experience at other landfill sites shows that the after-fill monitoring is often not up to the promised standard. And experience at the Cantley dumpsite shows that the Quebec Ministry of the Environment is either incapable, or reluctant, to enforce such monitoring. But even if the monitoring is totally vigilant over the next 30 plus years, the detection of toxic leakages into the groundwater does not fix the problem. It may be too late, or outrageously expensive, to try to correct the damage done after the dump is filled, and leaking. And who will pay for this…..the operator, or the municipal taxpayers? What lawsuits will result and against whom? Back to top
Contamination Of The Kazabazua And Picanoc Rivers

The rivers can be polluted two ways.

Treated Leachate: According to the promoter of the project, the leachate (the toxic brew of chemicals that collects in the site) will be treated and then released directly into the Picanoc River. The Picanoc and its valley is a pristine wild river used for over a hundred years by naturalists, canoers, cottagers, hunters, and fishermen. If the Picanoc is clean and pristine, the leachate (untreated) is the exact opposite. A study done by Texas A&M University reports that in a typical municipal landfill leachate, 32 chemicals cause cancer, 13 cause birth defects and 22 cause genetic damage.

Many seriously doubt that the “treatment” of the leachate will be of such a high quality as to render it so harmless that it can be released directly into the river. And over the course of 30 or more years, accidents and equipment or human failures, are inevitable. It could take only one such failure to kill the river for many years. And persistent failure will affect not only animal life in and along the river, but human life as well.

Untreated Leachate: But this is not the only way the rivers will be polluted.. As indicated above, the inappropriate substrate of the site, and the fact that all liners ultimately leak, means over time any leachate which is not collected for treatment will leak through the liners, reaching the water table a few metres below. Of the overall site, two thirds of the watershed drains into the Picanoc river system and one third into the Kazabazua River system. Thus two thirds of this toxic liquid will seep into the Picanoc and one third into the Kazabazua...

These two rivers are used for recreational activities for many in the region. Homes and cottages are built adjacent to the rivers, and both rivers flow directly through local towns. Ultimately, of course, they drain into the Gatineau River potentially affecting many more thousands of people The pollution of these three rivers could have devastating effects upon residents and tourism throughout the region. Back to top
Unwanted Wildlife

Residents close to landfill sites elsewhere in Ontario and Quebec complain vigorously about the types of animal life attracted to the site. While bears can be fenced out, rats cannot. They are rapidly reproducing, disease-carrying rodents. They are drawn to landfill sites and inevitably overflow into neighbouring areas as they follow the waterways. (There is now a significant problem with rats near the Cantley Landfill and they are being found in the basements of the neighbouring homes).

But the biggest complaints are about seagulls. They arrive in the thousands. They pollute neighbouring rivers, lakes and fields for many miles around the site.

In response to this threat the promoter claims that various measures will be put in place to deter birds. These include covering all the waste each day with sand, and installing systems for startling the birds.

Will these work? Many seriously doubt the willingness of the operator over time to cover the site every night with sand, and uncover it again the next day. In any event, that won’t keep the birds away in the daytime. The noise systems for startling the birds are sometimes more disturbing for the neighbours than the birds themselves. And where do these startled seagulls go? Back to Prince Edward Island to chill out? Of course not…..they go to the lakes and rivers surrounding the site. Back to top
Dramatic Increases In Truck Traffic

In the various discussions the Coalition has had with LDC, one of the hardest areas to assess accurately has been the impact on truck traffic on the local highways. While the effect will certainly be significant, it has proven difficult to get reliable and credible estimates from the prospective operators of the site as to the effect on local roads.

Providing the operators are successful in attracting the waste from the City of Gatineau, the bulk of the transport, they say, will be in large tonnage (logging truck size) trucks full of compressed garbage from “transfer sites” in Gatineau and surrounding areas. To this must be added a number (unspecified) of more conventional, including presumably open, garbage trucks from more local sources, as well as trucks carrying commercial, medical or industrial waste. Most of these trucks would be coming up the 105 from the Gatineau area, and then along Highway 301; but smaller ones would be coming south on Highway 105 from Gracefield area; and yet others along the 148 and north on the 301. The promoters allege that the total volume would average about 40 truckloads per day at peak operations. They also claim (although their numbers seem to change from time to time) that this constitutes an increase of only 2.5% of the trucks currently on Highway 105 and a 9% increase of the trucks on Highway 301.

The Coalition is deeply sceptical of these numbers. Consider the following:

40 truck-loads per day is 80 trucks per day, since obviously the trucks must return to where they originated;

For 80 trucks per day to be only a 9% increase in trucks currently going through the village of Danford Lake, the promoter must estimate that there are 888 trucks per day going through the village now. We seriously doubt this number

For 80 trucks per day to be only a 2.5% increase in the truck traffic in Kazabazua, there would have to be 3200 trucks per day going through that town now. This number is ridiculous.

In an earlier proposal to the Municipal Government in Quyon, LDC estimated that the collection of waste from the region excluding waste from the city of Gatineau would produce up to 54 truckloads per day. Direct comparisons between the two sites are probably not valid, since some of the waste previously estimated to be arriving in small trucks in Quyon, would now go through transfer stations and arrive in Danford Lake in much larger, but fewer, trucks. That being said, it is not credible to suggest that a dump in Danford Lake, which includes all the waste originally planned for Quyon plus the waste from Gatineau, and is therefore almost twice the size of the proposed Quyon site, would actually generate fewer trucks.

The figures given to us by the promoter are for the hauling of waste to the site. They presumably do not include the additional trucks carrying sand and gravel from pits and quarries for the covering of cells. Nor do they include the traffic generated by the hauling of recycling materials and hazardous waste to and from the site.

In short, the Coalition seriously doubts the figure of 80 trucks per day provided to us by the promoters…We believe it will be much larger. And we consider the figures provided for the percentage increase of truck traffic on 105 and 301 to be ridiculous.

But even using the promoter’s numbers, an increase of 80 trucks per day along these two highways, already notorious for the number of accidents (many involving trucks) they experience, presents an unacceptable increase in noise levels and a serious threat to the safety of all, including the school buses, who use those highways.

Remember…..using the promoter’s planned 11 hours of operation daily, and their estimate of 80 trucks per day (which we question), that’s still one truck every 8 minutes! For the next 30 years? Back to top
Loss Of Property Values

This landfill site, like all others, could have a serious impact on property values and, thus, on the municipality’s tax base. Once Danford Lake becomes known as the host of a megadump, every property located in the Municipality or along the road used by the trucks coming in and out could see a significant loss of value, as is the case in other landfill sites.

Real Estate agents are unable to estimate what the loss of value to local property might actually turn out to be….there are too many variables to take into account. But there is no question that values will go down, and properties will take longer to sell. They advise, not surprisingly, that the closer the property is to the dump site, the greater the impact on its saleability. Back to top
Hazardous Industrial Waste

One of the Coalition’s greatest worries is the nature of the materials going into the site. As indicated on the “Description of Project” page, the dump would be authorized to receive industrial waste, commercial waste, agricultural waste, construction waste, disinfected biomedical waste, and waste from incinerators, paper mills, oil refineries, and slaughter houses.

The greatest threat to the environment may come from hazardous industrial waste. It is not, we believe, permissible for such material to go into the site. The future operators of the dump assure us that measures will be in place to prevent that from happening. These measures include recording where the material came from and in what truck; checking the waste for radioactivity; and “inspection” of the waste by the “watchdog committee”.

In our view, none of these will be effective. Local industry sources tell us that it is a common practice to “sneak” hazardous waste into dumpsites where it is not supposed to go. This happens because the costs of disposing of hazardous waste are many times higher than the cost of disposing of other waste. A large financial incentive thus exists for under the table deals at the transfer sites for the Danford megadump.

Once the waste is compacted there is no way of telling what’s in it. The truck drivers might be quizzed on arrival about what they are carrying, but even if the drivers knew (which they probably wouldn’t) they would hardly be inclined to confess that there were inadmissible items in their load. And a visual inspection of the compacted waste itself would be highly unlikely to identify hazardous items.

Relying on inspection of the intake by the “watchdog committee” is, quite frankly, totally nonsensical. The “watchdog committee” is a small group of local citizens with limited technical knowledge. They are not likely going to be at the site during all of its operating hours. In any event, studies of other landfill sites question the impartiality of their respective “watchdog committees”. But even with the best will in the world, no local resident or anybody else can look at a closed 40 ton tractor trailer truck and say what’s in it.

Nuclear waste can, of course, be detected remotely. But even here, we are told by operators at other landfill sites that the equipment used for such detection generates so many “nuisance alarms” that it is generally not used.

In the end, there is simply no way of verifying what kind of waste is going into the site. Back to top
Air Pollution

Residents at all other local landfills complain about foul, and potentially toxic, air. The most prevalent smell is from H2S….hydrogen sulphide or commonly recognized as rotten egg smell. Landfill sites generate enormous amounts of biogas, none of it pleasant and none of it healthy. The gasses include methane, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, less smelly perhaps than H2S, but far more dangerous.

An engineered landfill site must therefore have sophisticated systems for collecting this gas from the site, and burning or otherwise disposing of it before it enters the surrounding atmosphere. The Danford Lake proposal goes into considerable detail on the nature of the technology and procedures that will be followed in this respect.

Still, it seems from other sites, that not all the gas is picked up. And over 30 or more years, through equipment or human error, there will be failures. The Cantley experience shows that the Ministry of the Environment cannot be relied upon to enforce biogas collection to the requisite standard. In the Cantley case, residents at one point had to be moved into hotels to allow the site to be cleaned up. Even with new monitors and considerable media and other criticism directed at the operators, the residents in Cantley still complain about the smell, as they do at the Carp site in Ottawa and at other landfills.

The prevailing winds from the Danford Lake site blow easterly, over the village of Danford Lake, through the major cottage occupied lakes and ultimately to Kazabazua and beyond. How far does a foul smell travel? All residents of Ottawa know that on at least some days of the year they can very clearly smell the pulp mills in Thurso, 50 km. away, and downwind from Ottawa. Back to top
Uncontrolled Hours Of Operation

The future operators of the site say that the dump will operate from 07:00 to 18:00, five days a week. More recently, they say that the dump may also be open on Saturday mornings.

But once the certificate is issued to the operator, there is no control on this of which we are aware. Residents along the roads to the St. Sophie landfill near Montreal complained about their dump operating through the night, keeping them awake with the non-stop truck traffic.

It seems that, as for so many other variables, local residents are totally at the mercy of the operators. If they decide to operate the dump 24/7 to make the dump more profitable, there is little residents can do. Back to top
Litter Along The Highways

As mentioned under “Truck Traffic”, some of the trucks delivering to the site would be smaller, more conventional, garbage trucks from local sources. Some of these trucks have covers to keep their loads from blowing off; some don’t. Even with covers, small loose items such as papers escape regularly. Anyone who drives the 301 or the 105 sees this often.

Videos of routes to other dump sites that we have seen show the roadways covered in papers and assorted rubbish that escaped from the passing trucks.

The promoter of the Danford Lake site claims the dump operators will refuse access to the site if they note “frequent” problems with the delivery trucks. Once again, we simply have to take their word for it. But it is a rare business that turns away customers because some papers flew onto someone else’s lawn. Back to top
Waste From Outside The Province

Although importing waste from another province is ostensibly illegal in Quebec, industry sources indicate that it is not unusual, or particularly difficult, to ship waste across the provincial border.

The promoter assures us that trucks coming from Ontario will be refused at Danford Lake. But again, the truck may be from Quebec, but carrying waste from Ontario. How would anyone tell?

In the case of the proposed Danford Lake landfill site, its proximity to the Ottawa region is a cause for concern, especially when you consider that the major investor in the site Cohen and Cohen, an Ontario scrap metal and demolition company. And demolition waste may be the most dangerous of all since it often includes toxic materials. Back to top
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