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Ministry rejection pending for technical landfill “We’re cleaning up our act” promises Sorting Centre

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Added: Wed, 05/22/2019 - 10:48pm
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Allyson Beauregard

LITHFIELD – It appears the Pontiac Sorting Centre (PSC) has received more than just fines and an order to cease operations from the Ministry of the Environment in the last couple of months.
“Following the analysis of the request for a certificate of authorization filed by the
PSC in May 2014 [to create] a technical landfill, the Ministère served the company with a [preliminary refusal] notice on April 9,” said Sophie Gauthier, Ministry spokesperson.
According to Gerry Philippe, PSC Director of Operations, the Ministry’s rejection isn’t set in stone. “It’s a notice that they will issue a permanent refusal if things [don’t improve],” he said. The Ministry confirmed it is a “step in an administrative procedure that could eventually lead to the refusal to issue a permit”.
The landfill was supposed to be created across the road from the Sorting Centre where asbestos and construction waste not suitable for re-use or recycling would be buried in holes protected with a double liner system.
On May 3, Minister Benoit Charette issued an order for the PSC to cease the deposit and burial of all types of residual materials in unauthorized places and create a plan to restore them back to their original states within 15 days, as reported in the May 8 edition of The Journal.
This order, as well as the PSC’s history of non-compliance, is the reason behind the Ministry’s refusal. The PSC has received 10 notices of non-conformity since May 2013 and was fined over $40,000 last fall for four offences dating back to 2013 and 2015 for improperly storing materials, not installing waterproofed sorting surfaces, and not having proper waste water treatment units.
“Deficiencies were found since the very first inspection in May 2013 … and the quantity of improperly stored materials have increased with each inspection,” said Gauthier, noting other reasons for the preliminary refusal include the environmental risks associated with managing leachate and handling waste containing asbestos fibres as well as the PSC’s failure to provide information regarding environment
protection measures.
The business says they have offered their full cooperation. “We’ve made a point for the past six years to supply the Ministry with answers to all questions that came our way and to hire professionals to prepare and deliver plans and specifications,” said Philippe, noting the PSC has never landfilled waste; “The Ministry’s interpretation of landfilling [includes] when we leave something on the ground pending the next phase of processing.”
However, the Ministry maintains this isn’t the case. “According to the findings, the
company has disposed of crushed residual materials by burying them in a landfill
and building a low wall, which isn’t allowed,” said Gauthier.
Philippe claims the technical landfill authorization would create “an entirely different ball game” for the PSC by allowing them to dispose of the “mountain” of debris on site themselves, and consequently comply with Ministry standards.
In February, the MRC Pontiac and Litchfield council resolved to send letters of support for the “technical landfill” project to the Minister of the Environment, Québec. Both say this new authorization will allow the business to come into conformity with Ministry regulations, and will create and maintain jobs. 
“We’ve requested more information about the preliminary refusal and the MRC has requested a meeting with the Ministry together with the PSC and the municipality to discuss the project. The municipality supports the project and will continue to support the PSC in their application for authorization. We are
confident that should the Ministry award the authorization, all regulations will be monitored and their conformity assured,” said Colleen Larivière, mayor of Litchfield.
“We are trying to support them, but want to encourage them to do the right thing,” said MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller, claiming the meeting with the Ministry will “open up a line of communication”. 
Drastic reorganization
According to Philippe, there has been a significant “reorganization” of the PSC in the weeks since the Ministry order was issued.
“We’ve begun to clean up our act drastically. A lot is being shipped out and materials are coming in and going out a lot faster … it’s going to be a whole different ball game here in the next few months,” Philippe told the Journal.
Despite the expenses of transporting unrecyclable waste like asbestos to the landfill in Lachute and lower profit margins, the business has no intention of closing says Philippe, who believes the PSC can meet the order’s deadlines if a bit of leeway is given.  
The PSC recycles 100% of metals and aggregates and 80% of everything else. “Some Pontiac municipalities have agreements with us and use our facilities as well as a vast majority of Pontiac contractors – major savings in transportation. We offer an important service, so it would be regrettable if we came to a point where [we close] due to a lack of collaboration on the Ministry’s part,” exclaimed Philippe, noting the business’ lawyers are currently reviewing the Ministry’s order and the preliminary refusal.
“Nothing in life is ever final,” he concluded