Legal problems escalated on Tuesday, October 18 for a composting plant in the Town of Newmarket, Ontario. Despite its potentially lucrative contract with the City of Toronto and a multi-million-dollar investment in new technology to compost organic waste in vessels inside a sealed building, odor problems from the Halton Recycling plant have garnered the ire of nearby residents and a pledge from the local government to shut it down.
The Town of Newmarket issued a news release saying that “the town has received the consent of the York Region Chief of Police to commence legal action [against Halton Recycling] based on public nuisance.”
A report in the National Post written by Peter Kuitenbrouwer quotes Esther Armchuk-Ball, a lawyer for Newmarket, as saying the town has retained the Toronto environmental law firm Willms & Shier to prepare its application to the Superior Court of Justice. She said that application is a few weeks away, and declined further comment.
Last week, Halton Recycling received a four-page order from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment stating that, “By October 14, 2005, Halton Recycling Limited shall limit their receipt of source-separated organics to a maximum of five (5) truck-loads per week (approximately 150 tonnes).”
It appears that Toronto officials and the province’s environment ministry were unaware that recent shipments from Toronto have exceeded that amount. Trucks filled with Toronto green bin waste travel Highway 404 to Newmarket despite the provincial order.
Noel Moya, general manager at the plant, said the minister’s order, “is still on appeal and we are given so many days to appeal. And until the appeal is exhausted, we are going to do what we are going to do.”
Kate Jordan, spokesman for the provincial environment ministry, said the ministry was unaware the plant was not obeying the order.
“‘This is the first we heard of it. We will look into this. The city was sent a copy of the order. The order is binding until an appeal is granted, and as yet the company has not appealed.'”
Jane Owens, a mother of two in Newmarket who has led the fight against the plant, was furious.
“It sounds like we’re going to have to have a blockade,” she said. “Look out.”
Last spring, Toronto City Council adopted a contingency plan for its growing production of green bin waste, agreeing to ship excess waste to three facilities in Quebec for $130 a tonne. But that, too, could prove problematic. The largest of the Quebec processors is Conporec Inc. of Sorel-Tracy, which has processed green bin waste at a facility in the town for more than a decade. Toronto has a contract to send up to 35,000 tonnes of green bin waste a year to Conporec.
But, according to the National Post, there have been odor problems and an instance of a corroded building cover collapsing. Sorel councillors gave Conporec one month to remedy the situation or be taken to court.
Toronto has sought a consultant to help it draft a plan for a local processor of green bin organics, inside city limits. A report recommending a consultant will go to the next meeting of city council. Next Tuesday, the green bin plan expands to North York households for the first time.