Speaking to an issue that has been extensively covered in the pages of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, a panel of independent experts has tabled a report on the available studies and data on a material called Sound-Sorb (a product derived from paper fibre biosolids and soil). Ontario’s environment ministry asked the panel to determine if the material, which is a byproduct of paper recycling, poses any adverse effects on human health or the environment.
Sound-Sorb has been used to construct (among other things) berms at gun clubs across Ontario, including the Oshawa Skeet and Gun Club. It’s exempt from Ontario’s waste management regulation O. Reg. 347.3, Section (2)1. Opponents of the use of Sound Sorb in such a manner say that as an exempt material, Sound-Sorb is not subject to any environment ministry controls.
The expert panel recommended that Sound-Sorb should not be used in an uncontrolled manner as an exempt waste as it is at present. Rather, the report states that, "the Panel believes that regulatory instruments that would control Sound-Sorb in its use in berms should provide the means to exert the regulatory control that the MOE may deem appropriate for other bulk uses of [paper fibre solids] PFB."
Specifically, the panel recommended that paper fibre biosolids should be controlled by Certificates of Approval or legal instruments that provide equal or better protection for human health and the environment at all stages from its generation, through transport, composting and final use in the construction of berms. The use of paper fibre biosolid material mixed with mineral soil should also be subject to ministry control with respect to its preparation and use in the environment by a Certificate of Approval or legal instrument that provides equal or better protection for human health and the environment.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario took a similar position in his 2003 report which stated, "The ministry’s first, and probably most significant error was to exempt Sound-Sorb from the Regulation 347 of the Environmental Protection Act, deciding to class it as a product rather than a waste."
Among the other recommendations of the Expert panel were:
There is no need to remove the Oshawa Skeet and Gun Club berm provided that long-term monitoring of the groundwater is continued;
Existing berms at other gun clubs should have a hydrogeological assessment and a monitoring regime;
Before a berm constructed of PFB and mineral soil is placed at any new location, a hydrogeological assessment should be done, and a SSRA (Site Specific Risk Assessment) done if the assessment indicates that one is necessary;
PFB should be composted before it is used in a berm.
Deb Vice, Co-Chair of Protect the Ridges hopes that in light of these recommendations the minister of the environment will "immediately implement the recommendations of the panel, ending this exemption and requiring accountability for the safety of waste disposal as intended in the EPA.
"Groundwater across the province has been put at an unacceptable risk simply to ‘ease’ a massive waste disposal problem," she said.
The environment ministry has yet to announce a date for a public meeting on the expert panel recommendations.
For more information, contact:
Deb Vice, Co-Chair, Protect the Ridges. Phone: 905-655-5045
Maureen Reilly, Sludgewatch/Brock Land Stewards. Phone: 416-922-4099
Chris Dancey, Neighbour to East Elgin Sportsman’s Association, Aylmer, Ontario. Phone: 519-765-2468.