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Southwestern Landfill Environmental Assessment

Proposal FAQ

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Why is a landfill needed?

Landfills provide critical infrastructure for safely managing materials that are produced by our society and cannot be easily or economically reused or recycled. As Ontario moves toward improving reducing, reusing and recycling as a province, there is still a need for safe, reliable disposal capacity. Similar to other forms of critical infrastructure, such as electricity, transportation, water, and wastewater treatment, the strength and health of our communities, economy and environment relies on the safe and effective management of society's waste. 

Waste generation is closely tied to economic activity and population. As the population grows, our society produces more waste. Ontario currently generates waste at a rate of about one metric tonne per person each year, which includes garbage, recyclables, and compostable material. Approximately 25% gets recycled or composted, which leaves approximately 750 kilograms per person that require disposal each year.

Ontario is currently lacking sufficient landfill capacity to manage its own waste. As a result, Ontario exports more than 3 million tonnes to the United States each year. Distances to US landfills are typically higher than to Ontario landfills, which in turn creates more greenhouse gas emissions. 

There are other thermal treatment technologies such as incineration, pyrolysis and gasification that are often referred to as alternatives to landfill. These technologies are effective at reducing waste but they all produce residual wastes, such as bottom and fly ash, that must be managed and disposed of. In addition, the cost of these technologies is significantly higher than landfilling and are traditionally uncompetitive in the Ontario or North American marketplaces. In Ontario, less than 5% of waste is managed via thermal technologies like incineration, and in the US, it is approximately 5-12%. Landfill is the predominant means of reliably, economically, and safely managing materials that are not reused or recycled. 

Where is waste generated?

It's a common misconception that we only generate waste while at home. In fact, this is only a portion of our "waste footprint", which includes waste we generate while at home, at work, and at play. 

  • About 40% of Ontario's waste is generated at home
  • About 60% of Ontario's waste is generated where we work and play. This includes the waste associated with the goods and services that we provide while at work (ie. waste from construction, manufacturing, and transportation). It also includes waste from places like shops, hospitals, restaurants, schools, arenas, and theatres.
Why did Walker Environmental choose this site?

When looking at investing in new infrastructure such as the Southwestern landfill Proposal, many factors are considered. Some factors are technical, like the proximity of the site to transportation corridors and utilities like water and electricity. However, the largest number of factors are environmental, and include mapping features like greenbelts, wetlands, conservation areas, and areas of scientific or natural interest. We're also sensitive to First Nations treaty lands and historical use.

In addition to environmental, technical, and social factors, we assess opportunities to reuse existing industrial lands. In this way, we avoid use of undeveloped land, called greenfields, keeping agricultural lands intact to produce food. 

Before launching the Southwestern Landfill Proposal, we assessed land already owned by the Walker Industries outside of the Niagara Region. Unfortunately, none were suitable for a variety of reasons, such as size or location within environmentally protected areas. 

The Carmeuse Lime site in the Township of Zorra was identified and represents a combination of location, access to infrastructure and a skilled work force, and an environmental setting that may be capable of supporting a modern landfill facility. The site is similar in many ways to the landfill that Walker currently operates in the Niagara Region. The Environmental Assessment process will assess in greater detail whether this site is actually suitable. We will not develop the Southwestern Landfill unless it can be done safely and in a manner that protects the environment. 

Where is the Southwestern Landfill Proposal located?
Walker Environmental is considering the development of the Southwestern Landfill Proposal in a mined quarry at the site known locally as Beachville Lime near Centreville. Specifically, the Carmeuse Lime (Canada) Beachville Operations located at 374681 37th Line (Oxford County Road 6) in Zorra Township.
Where can I find definitions of Waste Management terms?
A list of waste management terms has been included in the Southwestern Landfill Proposal Terms of Reference - Glossary of Terms.
What type of waste would the Southwestern Landfill receive?
The Southwestern Landfill would be approved to receive solid, non-hazardous waste, which is also referred to as municipal solid waste. Solid non-hazardous waste is generated by virtually every business and residence in Ontario. It includes waste collected from bins at offices, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, condominiums and more. Solid non-hazardous waste may also include processing residues from industry, manufacturing operations, and construction and demolition materials if they are non-hazardous.
Where would the waste come from?

The Southwestern Landfill would provide safe and reliable waste disposal for Ontario residents and businesses. In Ontario, waste from residences collected at curbside is managed by municipal governments. The waste that is generated at home represents approximately 40% of Ontario's "waste footprint". The other 60% is generated at work (offices, factories, restaurants) and at play (hockey rinks, movie theatres).

Waste from non-residential sources (industry, commercial operations, and institutions) is typically collected and managed by private sector businesses, like walker Environmental. Sometimes, municipalities choose to have the private sector manage their waste rather than run their own facilities. If you look around your town, you'll notice garbage bins behind businesses - this waste is collected by private companies and typically disposed of at landfills in other communities. 

What experience does Walker Environmental have with landfilling in a quarry?

Walker Environmental has over 30 years of safely designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining landfills in former quarries. In Niagara, our our currently operating South Landfill, as well as our closed landfills, are located in former quarries. 

We also have over 130 years of experience operating quarries via our sister company Walker Aggregates.We have extensive experience carrying out, monitoring, and safely managing blasting and vibration at our quarry operations.

There are also several other examples across Ontario where former quarries have been safely converted into landfill facilities.

How will waste be transported to the proposed site?

Trucks are currently the predominant method of transporting waste in Ontario for both short and long haul (e.g. shipments of waste from Ontario to Michigan are by transport truck). This method of transportation seems unlikely to change in the he near future. One of the attractive aspects of the proposed Southwestern Landfill site is direct proximity to Highway 401, the major trucking route in the province, not only for waste but for all goods.

How will leachate be managed at the proposed Southwestern Landfill site?

Walker Environmental will proceed with the Southwestern Landfill proposal only if it can be done safely and in a way that protects the environment. Pollution prevention and leachate management will be an integral part of the Proposal.

If the Southwestern Landfill Proposal is approved, it will include pollution prevention measures to minimize the amount of leachate created. Examples of prevention include construction of a landfill cover and methods to stop clean surface water from flowing onto the site. Despite these prevention measures, landfills generate some leachate from precipitation that comes into contact with waste. for landfills like the Proposed Southwestern Landfill, any water that comes into contact with waste is not permitted to be discharged back into the environment without prior treatment. 

Various options for managing leachate will be evaluated as part of the EA process, with opportunities for the community and other stakeholders to learn about the options and provide their input. Site-specific scientific and engineering studies will provide robust information that will provide Walker Environmental and our stakeholders information on how leachate can be best managed.

How will Walker Environmental manage water at the proposed Southwestern Landfill site?

Safe and effective water management is a critical requirement at any landfill site in Ontario. Walker Environmental has a long and proven history of efficiently and safely managing water at all of its facilities and our committment would be the same at the Southwestern Landfill.

We understand the importance of protecting our water resources and will work closely governments, First Nations, stakeholders and agencies to assess and care for our water resources.

Part of the Environmental Assessment is to study and understand the characteristics of both ground water and surface water in the area. We will develop a clear understanding where and how water flows, water quality, and the ecology of the water. We will then develop our site-specific water management plans to ensure water is protected. These management plans will address leachate (water that has had contact with waste), groundwater, and surface water.

A key principle that will be incorporated into our water management plan is pollution prevention. For example, we will design our water management systems in a manner that minimizes the generation of leachate. Each part of the water management plan will have a monitoring program to verify its effectiveness, as well as contingency (back-up) features and plans.

The leachate management plan will include actions to reduce the generation of leachate. This can be done by doing things like minimizing the area of the landfill exposed to precipitation through the construction of a landfill cap and preventing clean surface water from flowing onto the site. The plan will also include how leachate will be collected and treated before it is discharged back into the natural environment.

The groundwater management plan will assess how any groundwater in the soil or bedrock will be protected from the landfill. A key component of the groundwater plan will be construction of the landfill liner. The liner design for the Southwestern Landfill Proposal will be developed, evaluated and studied as part of the EA process, including consultation with stakeholders. At our South Landfill in Niagara, we constructed the 'double generic liner' as described in Ontario Regulation 232/98 by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.  This liner is approximately 4 metres (13 feet) thick.

The surface water management plan will assess how clean surface water from the site will be managed. Surface water normally consists of runoff from buffer areas and portions of the site that have been capped. In Niagara, we use a series of ditches and settlement ponds to collect and hold surface water. The surface water is tested before it's discharged to ensure it meets discharge standards for the local waterway.

All technical studies and draft plans will be discussed with stakeholders and will be available on our website.

How can I get involved in the Southwestern Landfill Proposal process?

Planning processes, like the Environmental Assessment (EA), involve listening to and considering the views and opinions of people who have an interest in the Proposal. This feedback is incorporated into our submission. There will be many opportunities to get involved throughout the EA process, which will be clearly advertised and explained. 

Members of the community, agencies, other interested stakeholders, and First Nations are encouraged to actively participate in the EA process by:

Please visit our Outreach page for more information.

Who is on the Walker Environmental Southwestern Landfill Proposal team?

We have a core group of employees who work on the Southwester Landfill proposal. We are also able to engage the expertise of our colleagues, including operations, environmental performance, and health and safety. In addition, we work closely with experts across various disciplines (ie. traffic, water, health) to assist us in assessing the Southwestern Landfill Proposal. Learn more about our team on our Project Team page.