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Deer Lake mayor defends decision to bury waste at old landfill site

A 2016 photo shows the berm containing garbage at the Deer Lake waste disposal site. FILE PHOTO
A 2016 photo shows the berm containing garbage at the Deer Lake waste disposal site. FILE PHOTO

Documents released through the access to information act reveal the Town of Deer Lake has been ordered to remove material it dumped at its former landfill site near Route 430.

Service NL received reports that waste from the town’s spring cleanup had been dumped at the site initially in May 2019.

In a document, dated June 3, 2020, environmental protection officer Tanya Simms indicated she had been informed the “bulk waste from last year’s spring cleanup is still at the former WDS (waste disposal site).”

At that time, she wrote the town was looking for permission to bury the material.

However, Simms said she advised the town that the Department of Environment already gave approval for Service NL to issue a ministerial order for removal of the material.

The order could be appealed by the town.

On Sept. 2, Simms was informed that Marine Contractors was disposing of waste material from the former fire department in Deer Lake even though the town had been previously advised that the site was non-operational.

Upon a subsequent visit to the site on Sept. 3, she saw an excavation underway.

Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball confirmed to SaltWire Network that the waste from the 2019 spring cleanup, as well as from the old fire department, has since been buried at the old waste disposal site.

Ball said the town determined burying it was the most financially feasible and efficient manner to deal with the material instead of transferring it to Hampden or Corner Brook.

The Hampden site currently services Deer Lake.

However, Ball said he sees no issue in using the old site, because it has not been decommissioned.

“I guess it was the first year we couldn’t handle our own waste, so we used our old landfill as a drop zone,” Ball said. “When it came time to truck it away, we would have had to take it to Hampden, but Hampden couldn’t handle it and they wanted us to truck it to Corner Brook. It was only going to be buried in Hampden or buried in Corner Brook, and our landfill was not decommissioned, and we had room to bury it there. So, we buried it.”

The mayor said the town has been communicating with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities and Service NL about the material and called it an ongoing situation.

However, the town decided to bury the waste now, as it did not want to leave it through the winter, Ball said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities said the matter remains under investigation and review by the department and Service NL.

The spokesperson said it would not be appropriate to comment on specifics until the investigation is complete and the town has been informed of the resulting actions.


Stephen Roberts is a west coast reporter based in Corner Brook

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