October 3, 2003

CBC online 

Consultant says river seeped into garbage

An environmental consultant says a Fredericton engineering firm charged with polluting the Petitcodiac River could have done a better job of sealing the old Moncton city dump. Anthony Crutcher testified Friday that Gemtec Limited, a company hired by the City of Moncton to close the old dump in 1993, allowed too much water to seep into the garbage, which created toxic leachate.

Gemtec Limited is fighting charges under The Fisheries Act that it polluted the river and endangered fish stocks. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by a local environmental group, Petitcodiac Riverkeepers, which collected runoff from the dump and presented its evidence to Environment Canada.

The City of Moncton pleaded guilty to similar charges, and was fined $35,000.

Earlier this week, an lawyer who helped the Riverkeepers with their investigation testified water samples were so toxic, they killed rainbow trout within 96 hours in lab tests.

Crutcher told the court that he has overseen similar dump closures in the past, and used diagrams to show what a proper landfill should look like after its closure.

He explained the top should be capped off with soil and vegetation, and it should form a mound with sloping sides. That way, rain water can flow off the mound with less of it leaking into the garbage below.

Crutcher said when he visited the Moncton landfill site last year, he noticed the site was flatter than any he’s seen. He also noticed a number of pools of water.

Crutcher told the court the flat site is allowing too much water to seap into the garbage, and creates toxic leachate which is ending up in the river.

The trial continues next week with witnesses for the defence. The defence lawyer is expected to argue that testing for toxins was inaccurate, and that a certain amount of leachate will flow from all landfill sites.