October 6, 2003

Moncton Times and Transcript 

Witness found ‘leachate seeps’ at dump
by Rod Allen

The early winter chill drifting across the top of Moncton’s old city dump had already frozen the surface of the little ponds scattered here and there, but as he meandered along the walking trail overlooking the Petitcodiac River, Tony Crutcher was impressed. “It was well covered with good vegetation and I found this quite encouraging,” testified the part owner of Waterloo-based international consulting firm Conestoga-Rovers in provincial court here yesterday.

But as he continued his tour last year, “I became concerned.” For one thing, there shouldn’t be little ponds scattered here and there. A properly closed landfill should be steeply sloped to encourage as much rainfall run-off as possible, said Crutcher. The top should come to a blunt point.

What Crutcher saw “was not merely flat, but in fact undulating, with pockets of water in the low points.”

Crutcher also encountered a number of “vigorous leachate seeps” on his journey. Some of these were also located at the top, suggesting a kind of volcano effect where leachate percolates up and down inside a chemical-laced morass of trash some of it festering for 30 years – beneath the rolling mantle.

“A very poorly drained site,” he said.

Halifax Crown prosecutor Paul Adams rested his case with Crutcher’s evidence yesterday in the two-week-old trial of New Brunswick environmental consultant Gemtec Inc. and its chief engineer, Robert Lutes.

Defence lawyer Robert Kenny would not say whether he intends to call witnesses when the trial resumes Monday before Judge Yvette Finn.

One of the themes of the case is the fact that the City of Moncton hired Gemtec to devise a closure plan for the dump. Gemtec developed two solutions, one costing $2.3 million and the other $13.2 million. Both, according to the City, were in compliance with provincial environment regulations.

The municipal government has said it consulted with the province throughout the process and Kenny, in cross-examining one Crown witness earlier this week, appears to have established that no federal regulations on dump closures existed in 1993.

Adams has called a total of 17 witnesses since the trial began on Sept. 22, ending with Crutcher and beginning with Environment Canada employee Gary Greene, the chief investigator in a case which started with a complaint from the local environmental organization Petitcodiac Riverkeeper.

From that complaint the case moved on to search warrants being executed at Moncton City Hall and eventually to charges – of polluting the Petitcodiac River system – against four parties.

Two weeks ago charges were dropped against City Engineer Geoff Greenough and the municipal government changed its plea to guilty, agreeing to pay $35,000 in fines and levies and to obey a court order to clean up the old dump at a cost estimated between $500,000 and $700,000. Gemtec and Lutes remain to defend against the charges.