HAMMONDS PLAINS, NS – Close to 100 residents filled a cafeteria at Hammonds Plains Consolidated Elementary School Monday night to voice their concerns about a proposed increase in waste water treatment at a facility in their region.
The treatment plant sits on the same land as a closed down landfill. The plant processes the waste water, called leachate, that develops when rainwater runs through the dump.
City staff say the plant is operating at 37 per cent capacity, they want to increase that to 40 per cent by trucking in the leachate from organic waste processing sites in the municipality.
Currently the city pays $400,000 a year for that leachate to be processed in New Brunswick.
But residents who fought to get the landfill closed in 1996 said they’re concerned any move to increase activity at the plant could lead to the landfill being reopened.
“That landfill has served its purpose and I don’t believe when somebody says they can put more crap in it, leave it alone, let it get settled, let it get back as natural as it can and go some place else,” said William Doubleday a property owner in Upper Sackville.
That distrust was voiced by most residents who spoke at the public information session with city staff, with many saying “closed is closed” at the end of their statements.
Six city councillors were also at the meeting. Councillor Matt Whitman of District 13 said he hasn’t yet decided how to vote on the proposal but he criticized city staff for their presentation.
“I wanted to say that you’re making it difficult for me tonight, I’m not getting the answers I need, you’re not making me feel very confident that this is a good thing.”
City staff told the crowd this proposal won’t involve reopening the landfill.
One person at the meeting did speak to Global News in favour of the proposal. Walter Regan is a volunteer with the Sackville Rivers Association, but attended the meeting as a private citizen.
“I don’t see any problem with it overall, the big thing is hold the councillors responsible, HRM says its not going to affect the river, I believe to prove that we’ve got to have a comprehensive water quality testing program,” said Regan.
City council will vote on the proposal this year, if it is approved the province would still have to approve a permit.