Continued monitoring of Picton Terminals has resulted in the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change handing the company over a dozen orders to change operations and stop polluting Picton Bay waters.
The order comes on the heels of widespread complaints to the MOE and on social media by the group called Save Picton Bay of pollution in relation to contamination of water, air and ground caused by the new operators at the Chapel Road site.
The orders obtained by Quinte News from the Ministry come with compliance dates throughout November surrounding the covering of storage piles of salt and its stormwater runoff; dust and spills from petroleum coke; plans and measures to prevent discharge and removal of contaminants and drainage.
A recent government investigation of the company by a Provincial Officer concluded: the Ministry has experienced a slow and incomplete response to requests for the dust plan, interim actions plan and monitoring plan.
“The government has now concluded these people are polluters” said Environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie on behalf of the group. “Picton Terminals don’t appear to respect our environment. They don’t appear to respect our community. The government has now had to order them to stop harming our resources. Why anyone would welcome them or want this operation in our County is beyond me.”
Gillespie stated he is of the opinion that it is reasonable to believe that the extent of contamination on and off the site has not been fully delineated and that in the absence of an appropriate remedial and/or monitoring program, off-site contamination may be occurring and may continue to occur and migrate off the site and onto adjacent properties where adverse effects related to soil, groundwater and surface water impacts may occur or have already occurred.
A report submitted to Quinte News written by Victor Castro, surface water scientist made five conclusions and recommendations including the completion of a stormwater management plan.
His report pointed to water samples collected showing high levels of choloride and sodum, exceeding toxicity thresholds for freshwater organisms.
He said additional concerns relate to cumulative loading of salt due to its proximity to Picton Bay, the drinking water source for the town of Picton, and to an increase in chloride concentrations in Lake Ontario, which reports indicate has seen levels steadily increase since the mid 19th century.
Picton Terminals owner Ben Doornekamp isn’t hiding the fact there is a problem but says the accusations his company is neglecting the Bay are “absolutely wrong.” He told Quinte News that the issue has been ongoing for 30 years and is a problem the business inherited when they bought the site two years ago. He said he’s been in talks with the MOE over salt runoff for eight months now and has been working on developing a new stormwater system.
He said they they can’t install it without Ministry approval.
“We acknowledge the salt needs to be cleaned up,” admitted Doornekamp.
He said he met with Ministry staff early Thursday afternoon and went over the orders.
“A lot of those things (orders) on the list are a non-stop working document and have already started,” he said pointing to recent improvements for docking, transfer and storage of products.
“We are not allowed to provide stormwater management without approval, we are not allowed to dig ponds to make it better,” he said. “We’ve come up with some ideas and by this time next year we could have our new stormwater system in place.”
The port is currently waiting to be rezoned from a quarry to shipyard. That matter is coming before council in December as the company has been working and seeking government funding to expand operations. The expansion could potentially see up to 100 ships a season dock at the site.
In the meantime, the Save the Bay group has been extremely vocal on social media that they don’t want to see this happen.
When pressed on the matter Mayor Robert Quaiff said he is pushing for more public consultation. He said there is an application process and he can’t speak for or against the expansion but he will when it comes before planning.
Quinte News has submitted further questioning to the MOE and is awaiting a response. Our newsroom was informed we would have more detailed answers by Monday.