March 1, 2004

Quebec grants BFI conditional approval for expansion of Lachenaie landfill

Quebec Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair recently granted BFIs sorting facility a certificate of approval for the expansion of the company's Lachenaie landfill site in Terrebonne, near Montreal. The approval authorizes the northern section of the site to receive a maximum of 6.5 million cubic metres (m3) of residual materials over a five-year period, for a maximum of 1.3 million tonnes per year.

This is considerably less than the 40 million m3 over a longer term applied for by the company. Mulcair noted that the shorter-term approval is in accordance with recommendations made by the Bureau of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE). This, he said, will enable the Montreal Metropolitan Community and neighbouring regional municipalities to implement the first phase of their management plan for residual materials. At the point of revising their plan, he added, they will be able to evaluate their disposal needs, taking into account application of the provincial residual materials management policy (1998-2008).

In addition to environmental measures linked to the planning and height of the new landfill cell, the approval includes additional protective measures. The expansion will be subject to a strict environmental monitoring program during its operation and for a 30-year period following closure. In particular, the monitoring program will focus on periodic analysis of surface water and groundwater quality and of air quality. The company will be required to implement an action plan, with measurable objectives and detailed steps, to reduce nuisance problems associated with seagulls around the site.

Residents living in the vicinity of the site will be directly involved in the monitoring activities, Mulcair noted. Two citizens' committees will be formed, one to monitor operations, the other to monitor odours. The first group will make recommendations to the company concerning measures to improve the functioning of the site and mitigate its impacts on the neighbourhood and the environment. The second group will report on odour episodes and collaborate with the company to develop measures for minimizing nuisance odours. Both committees will report their activities to the Ministry of Environment.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has also established a committee representing both the Ministry and public health directorates from various regions. This group will work to prevent adverse impacts on public health associated with large landfill projects.

In another decision, Mulcair said the provincial Cabinet has rejected an application by Saint-Athanase Sanitary Disposal Centre, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, to expand its landfill to receive 195,000 tonnes of waste over a period of 25 years.

The major problem with this project, he said, relates to access to the site in a rural residential area. Up to 140 trips per day of truck traffic transporting waste along the route to the site, where currently only delivery trucks are allowed, would jeopardize the safety and quality of life for local residents, he explained. In addition, the project would threaten a number of species risk in the area, as well as the recreational and tourism potential in the region, Mulcair said.

A June 2001 BAPE report found the original project, proposing the disposal of 300,000 tonnes of waste, unacceptable. In its assessment of the second proposal made by the company, the Ministry of Environment has concluded that even the reduced-capacity expansion is not acceptable.

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