Sunday, August 11, 2019

Letter to Annapolis County Council

Annapolis Waterkeepers

Aug. 10th, 2019

Re: Arlington Dump, Colchester County By-Laws

Councilor Wayne Fowler
832 Brinton Rd.
RR#1 Paradise
Port Lorne
Nova Scotia
B0S 1R0
(902) 584-3702

Warden Timothy Habinski
Nova Scotia
B0S 1C0
(902) 955-0258

Dear Councilors,
 As you may know, Colchester County Council has sided with its citizens and unanimously passed two by-laws which claim for council the right to require all those who wish to dispose of hazardous waste in Colchester County to obtain a license from council.

These two by-laws were created specifically to stop a proposed asbestos waste dump development in Stewiacke.  Residents and council now believe that the dump proposal will not go ahead and that there will never be an asbestos dump in Colchester without county approval.

The Department of Environment gave the project swift approval immediately after the council resolutions were passed.  Approval was given despite many obvious errors in the EA registration; for example, the proposal address and location were repeatedly misstated.  It seems obvious that the registration was never carefully examined and tested by NSE.  NSE approvals for some projects (especially for asbestos disposal projects, as has also been demonstrated at Arlington) seem to have become so routine that the process is little more than a rubber stamp with a few conditions attached.  The attached conditions seem mostly for spin and show, since, as the Auditor General pointed out, they are rarely reviewed or enforced.  Sometimes, as is the case at Arlington, the conditions of approval are ignored by provincial inspectors completely.

It is worth noting that one of the conditions attached to the Stewiacke dump approval was that the proponent must obtain all necessary permits.  This condition seems to validate the Colchester County by-laws, and is in line with the Premier’s and the new Minister of Environment’s repeated assurances that “the people shall decide”.  Unfortunately, that assurance has never applied in the case of Arlington.

It is quite clear from the way these registrations are vetted (or not vetted) that NSE and the Provincial Government have abdicated their responsibility to make certain that hazardous materials and toxic waste are disposed of safely.  At Arlington, for example, even after repeated citizen complaint, open and exposed asbestos bags still leach waste into the St. Croix Wetland with every rainfall.  NSE makes no move to correct this health hazard; and consistently understates the dangers of asbestos exposure.  The need for disposal facilities is so pressing that all dump proposals are welcomed and swiftly approved by the province.  Risk to human health by asbestos exposure has become an acceptable “cost of doing business”.  During the last four years, no asbestos disposal registration has ever been refused, and all approvals have been given within 55 days.

Because the provincial government has failed to insure safe and permanent disposal of toxic materials in Stewiacke, Colchester Council has stepped in to protect the health of its citizens.  County permit requirements will block establishment of the proposed dump, which Council properly deems completely unsafe.  If no dump is established in Stewiacke, the huge volume of asbestos generated by demolition of the VG Hospital there will have to be shipped to Arlington, thereby exacerbating proven unsafe disposal conditions and increasing health risks of asbestos exposure for Annapolis citizens.

Therefore we ask Council to join Colchester and take control of hazardous waste disposal in Annapolis by requiring County disposal permits.  We ask you to stand up for the health and safety of Annapolis residents even as the Provincial government fails to do so.

In the past, we have heard the excuse for inaction that attempting to regulate disposal in Annapolis County after the fact would amount to an act of “bad faith”.  With all due respect, the only “bad faith” in this discussion resides with the Province.  NSE did not consult with either the public or with County Council before approving asbestos disposal at Arlington.  Furthermore, our own MLA will not even respond to questions about the dump.  The public and Council have every right to speak, to approve or reject development; what seems to be lacking is County will to raise its voice and make that claim for its citizens.

We have also heard the argument that hazardous waste disposal is a matter beyond County jurisdiction.  Colchester County clearly does not believe that is true.  If Annapolis County is too timid to speak up and assert the right of regulation then it voluntarily surrenders any claim it might have to control its own destiny.

If the Colchester (and hopefully Annapolis also) by-laws hold they will strengthen local control in an era of ever more centralized power; if they fail, at least they will provoke discussion and force the Provincial Government to publicly address the issue of truly safe hazardous waste disposal.

Attached please find links to the Colchester by-laws along with related correspondence; (the highlights are mine) including a letter from the Minister of Environment that clearly requires the proponent to comply with Municipal by-laws, and a letter from Hazel Caldwell (a leader of the citizen’s group that worked with Colchester council to enact the by-laws) which describes the Minister of Environments assurance that Municipal Councils will decide what happens on their lands.

Apparently Minister Wilson is willing to accept local Municipal regulation in regards to establishment and operation of Hazardous waste disposal facilities.

Annapolis Waterkeepers would like to work with both Council and the Province to draft and establish appropriate by-laws.  It is our belief that the Arlington dump will have to close.  Material already leaching into the wetland and watershed will have to be removed.  This problem was created by a lax Provincial permitting system, unwillingness to admit the true dangers of asbestos exposure, and a failure to update archaic asbestos regulations; it is therefore the responsibility of the Province and the Province alone to bear the costs of remediation.  To this end, we will make representatives available to meet with council as may be convenient.  

Yours Truly,

Kip McCurdy
Gus Reed

For the Annapolis Waterkeepers

These are the links to the Colchester County by-laws:

Here is some related correspondence, first from the Minister:

Kip McCurdy 
Dear Kip McCurdy: 
Thank you for your email of July 13, 2019 regarding the Asbestos Waste disposal cell proposed by Colchester Containers Limited. In your letter, you express concerns related to health and the environment regarding asbestos disposal. 
Protecting the environment and human health is my first priority. This project registered for an Environmental Assessment (EA) on May 16, 2019. The EA process is a planning tool used to promote sustainable development by evaluating the potential environmental effects of major developments before they proceed. Through the EA process careful review is conducted of all the information provided, including public comments, input from the Mi’kmaq, science, and expert government review to determine potential environmental impacts related to the proposed project. On July 5, 2019 I determined that the project could proceed subject to terms and conditions designed to protect the environment and human health. August 9, 
The proponent must comply with the terms and conditions of the EA approval, the Asbestos Waste Management Regulations and all federal, provincial and municipal legislation. In addition, they must apply for an operating approval from NSE that includes information requested in the EA approval. Please be assured that these tools ensure this facility has the appropriate regulatory oversight. I appreciate your interest in this project and thank you for bringing your views forward. 
For more information please contact (902) 424-2574 or 
Gordon Wilson, MLA Minister of Environment 
PO Box 442, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 2P8 ●

And also from Ms Caldwell

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: <>
Date: Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 10:53 PM
Subject: By-laws
To: <>

Hi Gus,
I hope the links below are what you are looking for.
Our Mayor and councilors were unanimous in their decision to put these by-laws in place, we were also told by the Ministers office that it is up to the Municipalities to decide what happens on their Counties lands, we will know when the proponent tries to get the permits from the county.
We are continuing with our push back against the Dept of Environment as we want to keep the pressure on! 

Burying asbestos is a terrible practice, even worse is letting private companies bury it.

We must keep in touch about our fights! 

Best Regards

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