Collecting leachate from former dump site costs City of Kingston $1,500 per dayBy Bill Hutchins

Ashort-term plan to control discharge of liquid waste from an old city garbage dump will cost taxpayers an estimated $1,500 a day. “It’s definitely expensive,” says Mirka Januszkiewicz, Kingston’s environmental director. But city officials maintain there is no safety hazard to people who live, work or plau in Belle Park, which is now home to a golf course, ski hill and a children’s summer camp. “Those activities will continue,” says Januszkiewicz in her first public comment on the matter. And so will a private prosecution. Environmentalist Janet Fletcher is pursuing a private charge under the Federal Fisheries Act. The charge alleges the former dump on Montreal Street is leaking thousands of gallons of “toxic” waste into the Cataraqui River. The pollution-related charge carries a maximum $1.2 million fine. 

Metal barriers were installed to contain the discharge from north side of former dumpCity officials insist they were not aware of the leachate problem until alerted by Fletcher in January. And they maintain the clean-up operations that began in early March are “in no way connected to the private charge sworn against the city”.

Site monitored continuously

The city has hired a local consulting firm, Malroz Engineering, to monitor the site “continuously” until long-term solutions can be developed, says Januszkiewicz. Engineers have installed metal barriers to contain the discharge of leachate from a river bank on the north side of the former dump.

Januszkiewicz does not know how many truck loads of leachate are being diverted into the sewer system each day, but says melting snow has created “a lot of run off.” She estimates the consultants will charge the city $1,500 a day for the stop-gap measure. We are now developing a more permanent solution with our consultants,” she explains.
Leachate is garbage juice formed by ground and surface water passing through layers of decaying trash. A sanitation truck is pumping the leachate from the river bank site and then dumping it into the city’s sewer system. This remedial clean-up operation has been approved by the Ontario environment ministry.
Fletcher says the short-term clean-up measures will not halt her court action. “I don’t know if (the city) is actually going to carry through with anything, or if this is just window-dressing,” says Fletcher. And Fletcher disputes claims by Kingston officials that they were not aware of a leachate problem until earlier this year. “They knew. And they’ve known for a number of years. I did bring it to their attention around 1990-91 but we didn’t have the evidence to pursue it at that time.” Januszkiewicz admits she is “very disappointed” with Fletcher’s legal action, and city solicitor Norm Jackson intends to respond to it in court April 15. In her March 25 briefing to council, Januszkiwicz notes the city has spent $40 million over the past five years on other environmentally-friendly projects.Site neglected for too long

But environmental lawyer Mark Mattson, who is assisting Fletcher’s court challenge, says the city has neglected the dump site for too long. “It’s ironic that they’re still working on a long-term plan of a site that’s been closed for 27 years.”