Champlain Township’s municipal landfill site on Cassburn Road is closed until further notice, according to a report submitted to council as part of its regular December 9, 2021 meeting.

The closing took effect as of November 30. Champlain Township had provided the Ministry of Environment and Climate Protection (MECP) with consultant reports containing information about groundwater tests and contamination but these have not been reviewed by the ministry for the past two years. The township’s public works report explained that a response from the ministry was finally received on November 30, 2021, stating that approval from the ministry was required to continue receiving waste.

Public Works director Sebastien Levesque’s report told council that the ministry response was “stating the obvious.”

Before Champlain Township can continue to operate the landfill site, it must submit to the ministry “a design and operation plan with up-to-date engineering and environmental standards and a detailed hydrogeological assessment for proper and safe development of the remainder of the site.”

If the municipality does not intend to use the remaining capacity of the site, it should submit a closure plan, the ministry said.

A new design and operation plan has not yet been prepared, because the township was waiting for ministry guidance on next steps for the contaminant plume north of the site, identified in spring-summer 2021, “prior to preparing a new plan that could be denied on this basis,” according to the Public Works report to council.

The municipality had prepared a three-year, short-term design and operation plan in 2018. A 2018 Contingency Report had described contamination north of the site.

Champlain Township is working on an agreement with the Town of Hawkesbury to use its snow landfill site to dispose of snow for the 2021-2022 season. As for dry waste disposal, the township is looking for an alternative site in the region. Items from the municipality’s regular spring clean-up cannot be disposed of at the Cassburn landfill site, nor can items be accepted from contractors or residents until the site is once again approved to accept waste.

West Hawkesbury councillor Sarah Bigelow wanted to know why two years has passed and that documentation related to the landfill was only being seen now.

The Public Works director replied that when the municipality had expropriated land north of the site, consulting firm LRL had suggested flushing out the new wells and taking new readings. The results were obtained in late August and they were not what the municipality was expecting, Levesque said.

The expropriation process, involving the township’s acquisition of 28.56 acres of land located north of the landfill site, has taken a significant amount of time. That process, discussed by council in a closed meeting on February 12, 2020 and in June moved to expropriate the land after unsuccessful attempts to purchase water rights as well as purchasing the land.

The expropriated land was to be used for a contaminant attenuation zone, but it appears that the municipality has not identified the edge of the contaminant plume.

“The plume is beyond where we are monitoring,” confirmed Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel after the meeting. He is hoping that the ministry will grant an extension to the township so that it can continue operating the site until further analysis has been completed.

In the meantime, the township’s legal counsel handling the expropriation is still trying to get a response from the counsel representing the owner of the expropriated property regarding method of payment for the expropriated property. Two offer options for payment have been made.

The by-law to proceed with the expropriation process was approved at Champlain Township’s June 11, 2020 meeting.