Monday, June 15, 2015

DUCKING ACCOUNTABILITY IS LITTERED WITH PROBLEMS

When the City of St. John's successfully lobbied the Provincial Government to let the Robin Hood Bay Dump become the Regional dump so that the city could benefit from the tipping fees, they did not consider the impact on generations of East End residents and tax-payers.

I still find it hard to swallow the fact that our Provincial Government spent over $80 million to expand Robin Hood Bay Dump into the regional dump for the entire Avalon Peninsula, despite recommendations to close the facility and relocate it in a less populated area.

For years now, residents have had to put up with the pungent odors that emanate from the dump, the mess of garbage spewed over the Outer Ring Road leading to the dump and the potential of toxic leachate backing up into their homes.

A few years ago, after much lobbying and complaining about the odour, the city expended  $2 million dollars to expand the underground methane collection system in an effort to correct the stench. The wet Winter and Spring has brought with it a marked increase in the odours.

Yesterday, provincial government employees, many making great overtime, were hustled into the Capital City to clean-up the 4 kilometer stretch from Portugal Cove Road to Logy Bay Road. They picked up and moved 30 tonnes of garbage!


Lets keep in mind that all of the waste from the entire Avalon, Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas is supposed to be transported over our provincial highways to the Robin Hood Bay Dump located right here in the city. If there was 30 tonnes of garbage in that four kilometer section, how much is out there in the ditches and forests that line the highways across Eastern Newfoundland? The figure must be staggering.

With an office in St. Philip's and in Keligrews, I travel the ORR daily and am often shocked with the type, and amount of garbage located along the Outer Ring Road that tumbles off trucks heading for the dump. Just Friday past, I saw a mattress and a bed frame near the Portugal Cove turnoff. 

 Did you know that all of the leechate collected at the dump is rerouted into the city's sewer system and is deposited in the harbour via the  River Head Wastewater Treatment Facility? The original design of the expanded dump was to include a facility to pump and treat hazardous leechate at the waste facility. A cost saving initiative saw the treatment facility scraped. Instead this environmentally hazardous substance is piped -via the sewer - to the harbour!

What is Leachate? Landfills receive a mixture of municipal, commercial, and mixed industrial waste.The smelly hydrogen-, nitrogen- and sulfur-rich chemical soup is a by-product of the decomposition process.

In the past, before the installation of liners, the leachate leaked out into the Atlantic Ocean just below the dump. There is still some leakage but the majority of the Leachate is now collected in specially designed collection ditches that ring the dump. It is collected by pumps and sent to the harbour!

The toxic soup includes  dissolved organic matter (alcohols, acids, aldehydes, short chain sugars etc.), inorganic macro components (common cations and anions including sulfate, chloride, iron, aluminium, zinc and ammonia), heavy metals (Pb, Ni, Cu, Hg), and xenobiotic organic compounds such as halogenated organics, (PCBs, dioxins, etc.)


I fin it hard to trust a provincial government, or a municipal government, that rejected expert studies and public input that recommended against this development in the first place! 

I can not trust city mandarins that cut corners and fell short of building the facility to the specifications as designed? Where is the leachate treatment facility?

The 70 year old dump at Robin Hood Bay is not the only thing that stinks about our city's decision to extend the life of the dump and open it up to the entire East coast.



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