Delor mines final cleanup plan announced

The Community Press, Eastern Edition   November 19/2004

Deloro mines final cleanup plan announced   by Louise Livingstone

Deloro: Ontario Minister of the Environment (MoE) Leona Dombrowsky introduced the long-awaited MoE plan for the closure of the Deloro Minesite, on Friday, November 12, 2004, at the Deloro Community Hall.

The public has until January 12, 2005, to comment. She announced the start of this consultation period at a meeting of local politicians, members of the Deloro Minesite Cleanup Public Liaison Committee and media.

“This is a very special day,” said Brain Ward retiring MoE regional director for eastern Ontario. “It is the launch of the final cleanup. Things are better today as the Mining Act now ensures sites are closed properly.

“The problems at Deloro are the result of an environmental legacy of 100 years of mining and industrial activity. The companies [at Deloro] followed the rules of the time, but rules have strengthened. The MoE is proud of what it has done to reduce the problem by 80 per cent. Now we want to solve the remaining 20 per cent.”

Ward welcomed the MPP Leona Dombrowsky.

“It is a pleasure to be in my home riding,” said Leona. “This is a very important event. I am pleased everyone is here to help mark this milestone.” She welcomed representatives from the public liaison committee including Councillor Elaine Jones, Township of Marmora and Lake, Bonnie Danes, Quinte Watershed Cleanup, Terry Murphy general manager Quinte Conservation, Councillor Dave Schulz, Municipality of Centre Hastings, Deloro resident Doug Lynch and John MacDonald, Moira Lake Property Owners Association.

She described how, “No sooner was I elected MPP of Hastings, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, even before I had an constituency office, that Brian Ward called me up, and came to see me with Jim Ritter to make sure I was well briefed. They took a good deal of time to explain the problems at Deloro.

“People have long suffered for some of the stigma attached to Deloro. They have concerns for their families about the impact of Deloro. The health based risk assessment showed there was not any greater health risk in the village [than elsewhere] but the site did need attention.”

Leona thanked the community “for helping get to us to where we are today. We are now at turning point.” She explained, “The MoE has done two offsite studies, and all the scientific work needed to complete the strategy. Local municipalities have partnered in the process.” She assured everyone, “We will not finalize the cleanup plan until the community reviewed it.”

She did say, she had a special interest in Deloro as her home is in Tweed down stream of Deloro. “I am well aware of the concerns downstream and I am every bit as determined [as other residents] the project should be completed.

“With a site this complicated this will not happen in a day, a week or a year. We are breaking new ground. We have not been able to look at models of cleanup elsewhere. We will be able to write guidelines for other communities.”

The minister assured everyone, “The funding will continue to make this safe for people and the environment for hundreds of years to come.”

She introduced project manager Jim Ritter, complimenting him on his wonderful ability to make complex issues simple by using layman’s terms.

“I have been looking forward to this day for many years,” said Ritter who has worked on Deloro since the early 1990s. “There are 202 hectares of contaminated land and 650,000 cubic metres of material contaminated with arsenic, cobalt, copper, nickel, and low level radioactive materials [uranium, radium and other radioactive materials], abandoned mine shafts and derelict buildings.

“The MoE have spent $20.5-million so far on the arsenic treatment plant with its system of ground and surface wells [and on the laboratory], on locating and sealing mine shafts, demolishing derelict buildings, covering the red mud tailings, and on the two offsite studies, one of Deloro village and the one on the Moira River system. The result is an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of arsenic going downstream “The MoE and its engineering and project management consultants CH2MHILL Canada Limited have done a thorough review of the literature and have reviewed the options in a four-step process. No experimental methods were considered.

Each option was evaluated using 16 measures of effectiveness. We looked at the technical, social, environmental, and cost factors and then decided on the cleanup methods which met the majority of the criteria.”

Ritter described the objectives of the cleanup plan.

“This is to isolate and contain the wastes, so the site is safe for people and for the environment for hundreds of years to come. The waste will be managed over the smallest area, reducing the loading to the Moira River and to Young’s Creek. We will restore the site to refl ect the natural surroundings.”

He said, “The plan is to contain waste on the site and to isolate it from the environment, consolidating the most contaminated material in engineered containment areas and putting the less contaminated material under a clay cap, and managing ground and surface water to keep it away from the contaminated material.

“There are five areas. These are the northern mine area, the industrial area, the mine area to the south, Young’s Creek both north and south of Highway #7 and the red mud tailings area.

“The industrial area is the most highly contaminated with calcium arsenite/arsenate, and radioactive slag and tailings. The plan is to consolidate and cover this with an engineered cap and establish a surface and groundwater diversion system. There will be a 1.55-metre thick cap over the most highly leachable material,” said Ritter.

“Soil along the 0.7 kilometre of the west bank of the Moira River will be removed and the river bank will be reconstructed with clean material,” said Ritter. “Interceptor wells [along the west side of the industrial area] will collect clean water flowing from the village of Deloro and divert it south.

“The Tuttle Shaft will be pumped 12 months of the year and not just seasonally as is the case now.”

He described the red mud tailings area next. “There are 13 hectares, which are contaminated with arsenic, cobalt, copper, radioactive material [uranium, and radium] containing 45,000 cubic metres. The tailing will have an engineered cover and a system for collecting and treating leachate seeping out from the area.

The leachate will be pumped across the river into the arsenic treatment plant. There will be a surface water diversion system and we will plant the area with hybrid poplar tress and grass. Hybrid poplar are drought resistant and will suck up any moisture to prevent it getting to the tailings.

There will be a geo-textile material to stop soils and cover material going into the tailings.”

He then spoke about Young’s Creek which has arsenic, cobalt, copper, nickel and radioactive material. Onsite contamination is deep, while off site contamination is only in the surface layers.

“In this area we can start from scratch and blast a new cell and build it from the ground up, putting in a liner underneath,” said Ritter. “The material will be de-watered by placing it in windrows to dry, before putting it in the containment cell. This [purpose built] containment area will cover fi ve hectares and be 17 metres high.

“Young’s Creek is a Provincially Signifi cant Wetland,” said Ritter. “Although, it will be damaged in the short term, in the long term it will be better. The planning is to take the material out in sections using a series of dams and staging areas with windrows to dewater the material, before putting it into the engineered cell. It will be a three-year process at the minimum.”

He told the group, “he overall cost of the Deloro Minesite Cleanup is between $30- and $40-million with the annual cost of $1-million for running the site, which include operating arsenic treatment plant and water monitoring program. This money will come from the Environmental Cleanup Fund of MoE.”

“There is a 60-day consultation period,” said Ritter. “After that the next stage is to finalize the detailed engineering drawings and to get all the necessary licences and permits.” This includes the Federal Environmental Assessment Process.)