Media Release: OPAL Files Legal Challenge Against Ministry Approval of Quarry Effluent Discharges into Lake near Ingersoll

Media Release

Ingersoll – The Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) Alliance has applied to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal for leave (permission) to appeal an environmental approval recently issued to Carmeuse Lime (Canada) Limited.

The approval was issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and allows Carmeuse to start discharging quarry effluent into a large lake that exists on the company’s property near Ingersoll.

“Our group is greatly concerned about the potential adverse impacts of discharging quarry effluent into the natural ecosystem of the lake, which is easily the biggest waterbody in the Ingersoll area,” said Bryan Smith, Chairman of the OPAL Alliance. “We are pleased that Oxford County has also applied for permission to appeal this unjustifiable approval.”

“Our client’s position is that the Ministry’s decision to issue the approval is unreasonable and could result in significant environmental harm,” stated Richard Lindgren, a staff lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) in Toronto. CELA represents the OPAL Alliance in its fight against the discharge approval.

The OPAL Alliance has also retained a hydrogeological consultant, Wilf Ruland, P.Geo, who has identified a number of serious concerns with the proposed discharges and the adequacy of the supporting documentation filed by the quarry operator. For example, there is no information on which types of contaminants may be present in the effluent discharged into the lake, or on whether the effluent discharges into the lake will comply with Ontario’s regulatory limits.

“In 2014, Carmeuse applied for approval to drain the lake, but the company withdrew that controversial proposal in light of strong opposition from OPAL, other stakeholders, and the public at large”, added OPAL past president Steve McSwiggan. “Carmeuse then amended its site rehabilitation plan in order to keep the lake intact and the shorelines re-vegetated. In these circumstances, we are puzzled why Carmeuse now wants to pump quarry effluent into the pristine lake, and our group will continue to pursue its vigorous objections to this unacceptable proposal.”

The next step in this legal proceeding is for the Ministry and Carmeuse to file written responses to the evidence and arguments submitted by the OPAL Alliance and Oxford County.

After considering the parties’ materials, the Tribunal will decide whether leave to appeal should be granted. It is anticipated that the Tribunal’s leave decision may be released in October or November. If leave is granted, the Tribunal will hold a public hearing on the discharge approval.

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For more information, please contact: Bryan Smith (OPAL) 519-456-5270; Richard Lindgren (CELA) 613-385-1686

Photo credit: Kim Osmond