Excess Soil Comments Our…

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Excess Soil Comments
Our community group is glad to see that a consultation attended several years ago has led to work by MOECC staff to develop a policy around excess soil that will improve protection for the environment and for communities in Ontario. We are aware that “excess soil” is a broad term and one with has been a euphemism for contaminated soil in several cases. The implications for human health where toxins have been and could be transported in soil are significant enough to require a robust regime of legislation, regulation, monitoring and enforcement.
The community group therefore suggests the following:
• A much more rigorous testing strategy for soil before it leaves a site to determine what threats it poses to human and environmental health
• A careful consideration of the necessity of the transportation of excess soil in light of the work by Dr. Ray Copes and others on the health impacts of diesel fumes, fine particulate matter and dust along traffic corridors and through it a massive reduction in the transportation of this waste (and other forms) which cost us in terms of health and money
• A clear definition of beneficial purpose and thresholds which must be met by any proposed soil movement indicating that the benefit to the receiving site will be substantial and desired by the local community
• A total ban on depositing excess soils over prime farmland or class I – V soils so as to preserve Ontario’s Food belt and avoid burying or mixing productive and fertile soils with subsoils or lower grade ones as well as waste products of any kind
• A total ban on depositing excess soils on or in a high vulnerable aquifer zone and in its proximity so as to protect municipal and farm wells from contamination
• A total ban on depositing excess soils in well-head protection zones and their proximity so as to avoid altering surface characteristics including direction of water flow and/or composition
• An exclusion of all excess soils from pits and quarries, except perhaps those guaranteed by a financial bond from the originating site in excess of the potential clean-up costs, by an oath from a Qualified Person who stakes a professional qualification on the purity and suitability of those soils for rehabilitation as well as a clear plan for rehabilitation which meets or exceeds requirements of the MNRF and satisfies the community
• Enhanced empowerment of local municipalities to ban excess soil deposits within their boundaries no matter what the class and/or origins
• A clear definition of a Qualified Person with credentials in chemistry as one of the components of qualification so as to give assurance to the public of their oversight
• A public registry of the soil sources, scientific analysis results on the soils, identification of the producer or owner of the excess soil, identification and qualifications of the qualified persons who will classify it, and a clear identification of the proposed destination and the statement of the benefits to the receiving site
• An audit process for the public registry mentioned above which would provide independent scientific measurement of the integrity of the data on the site, including the power to examine and/or re-examine soils and/or testing methodologies at any time (This might well involve the Environmental Commissioner’s office and require additional authority for it as well as funding)
• No exemption from the definition of excess soil as waste for sites where the depositing of excess soil is not the main purpose, but where the depositing of excess soil could have negative effects on human and environmental health
• A systematic default to the highest standard in every case where there may be an overlapping of legislative or regulatory frameworks
• A full examination of soil remediation processes and of soil processing sites to determine if they provide any assurance of health to humans and the environment
• Rapid application of the most stringent possible regulations and processes and constant improvement in them with human and environmental health of prime concern
• Support for local municipalities in the MOECC’s making scientific data and analysis available to them, support from MOECC staff scientists to planners and others on municipal staff
• Intervener funds to be offered by producers of excess soil as well as by planned recipients of excess soil to community groups to help them develop their capacity to have scientific studies done as well as to understand and communicate scientific knowledge from these and other valid sources to the public.
The community welcomes this comment period, offers these remarks in good faith, and believes that additional rounds of consultation with the public, broadly, will result in higher health and environmental standards and thus improved human health.