Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers, 
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands, 
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?

That small village is still here in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.  People have lived here for thousands of years.  Europeans for hundreds.  We are farmers, fishers, craftspeople and professionals - ordinary folk who have built their homesteads in the pristine and idyllic community of St. Croix Cove. The Bay of Fundy is our front yard; the North Mountain is our back yard.  

The mountain provides an abundant supply of clean water.  The water is collected by the hand of nature and stored in a large wetland at the source of several brooks.  It filters down the mountain through gravel seams and bedrock fissures.  We tap dozens of bubbling springs and aquifers with our wells.  The trout from the brooks are lean and delicious.

Over the last thirteen years, a construction debris dump found its way into the very top of our watershed.  At first we didn't pay a lot of attention, wishing our neighbor well in his new enterprise and trusting the authorities to look after our best interests.  If we received notice or were asked an opinion we can't remember. We're certain nothing appeared in our mailboxes.  Few of us subscribe to a newspaper, and it's safe to say no one has ever lingered over the Public Notices.  

In 2008 we were still napping when the dump, Arlington heights C&D, applied to become a disposal site for asbestos waste.  Disposal of this toxic carcinogen is a big problem for developers, especially in an older city like Halifax.  It says a lot that huge trucks make the 325 kilometer round trip to our insignificant community in order to get rid of their burden.

Now Arlington Heights C&D is expanding again, and we are finally waking up.  This isn't simply a case of not-in-my-backyard, but a question of environmental justice and whether people can control their own destiny.

We've come to question some of the science that was used to support the location of Arlington Heights C&D.  Perhaps more importantly, we've come to question the process that brought us to this unhappy situation.  We write to our elected representatives, we write to civil servants charged with our health and well-being.  It's like shouting into the storm and we receive no reply.

People may have been around for thousands of years, but Arlington Heights C&D will be around for tens of thousands.  We are quite certain that runoff from the site reaches our wells.  The procedures that led to a recent underground fire concern us.  The release of volumes of smoke and steam are worrisome.  Salt water used to extinguish the fire inevitably finds its way to our wetland.

We are calling for a moratorium on the use of Arlington Heights C&D.  Let's hit the pause button, examine the science, redo parts of the Environmental Assessment, hold the trucks in Halifax, and take stock of our own priorities.  

Imagine a Nova Scotia where those without a voice are heard.  Where people are treated fairly, where decisions are reached on firm evidence and in the full light of day.  

That's the province we hope to live in.

Annapolis Waterkeepers

No comments: