On February 24, Hastings County council voted unanimously against supporting the expansion of the Richmond landfill Napanee. The council is made up of representatives from 14 area municipalities. Waste Management of Canada wants to expand the 20-hectare landfill just north of Napanee to about 90 hectares.
The vote may not affect the project, which is already undergoing an environmental assessment that is currently with Ontario’s environment ministry, and which may allay the concerns of councilors.
Waste Management’s Kevin Bechard, director of public affairs, Ontario and Atlantic, and area general manager Marc Fox did their best to describe the environmental soundness of the proposed expansion. Bechard said the landfill will have a 10-foot-thick liner across the base to contain leachate, and told councilors the company is preparing an environmental assessment, with the hope of expanding the landfill so it can accept 750,000 tonnes of waste per year for 25 years. (The site currently accepts up to 125,000 tonnes a year.) The company also plans to collect methane gas emitted from the site and use it to produce energy.
The environmental assessment is expected to be with the Ministry of the Environment for several months. When the company receives a decision, it will report back to county council. Hold ups with the Richmond environmental assessment have caused concern in the waste management industry; companies claim the EA process lacks certainty and they want clarification and changes to the process so as to have a better grasp as to whether or not their proposals have a chance of success.
In a trend that’s in keeping with the continent, more than 700 smaller landfills have closed in Ontario in recent years in favour of larger, regional sites with greater environmental controls. Ninety landfills in North America currently producing electricity from their methane gas emissions.