Concerns over Possible Reopening of Toxic Edwards Landfill in Cayuga
The Edwards Landfill is located in an area recognized as a significant wetland by the Ministry of Natural Resources, and is part of the North Cayuga Slough Forest and the Carolinian forest. Opened in 1959, it was zoned as a landfill prior to the creation of the Provincial Wetlands policy, and remained exempt. It was not rezoned, and retains its Certificate of Approval. Although the dump is at times dormant, it has never actually closed as per Ministry definitions.
A local Cayuga group, HALT (Haldimand Against Land Transfers), formed in 2004 to prevent the contaminated site from becoming once again active. After pursuing legal channels within the courts for four years, HALT is now working with the Hoskanigetah, a group of Haudenosaunee committed to protecting the land and upholding the Kianerekowa (the Great Law of Peace). Cayuga is adjacent to the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, and is situated within the Haldimand Tract, land granted to Six Nations as per the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.
In 2007 and 2008, activists from Six Nations and HALT, as well as from London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Hamilton worked together to turn away trucks attempting to enter the site, despite noncompliance with Ministry of Environment regulations. Current evidence suggests that there will be further attempts to reopen the site, despite its continuing toxicity. Many of the concerns stem from evidence of illegal dumping by the now defunct Saint Lawrence Resin Plant. Specifically, high incidences of livestock death have been reported on farmland bordering the site, and suspected water contamination resulting in human illness.
A “Review of 2006 Monitoring Report for Edwards Landfill” confirms that “the historic waste areas…are badly contaminated, in particular with PAHs (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons)”. Wilf Ruland, the professional geoscientist conducting this review, also writes that, “The existing hazardous wastes on the Edwards Landfill property pose an ongoing threat to both groundwater and surface water quality for as long as they remain on the property. These hazardous wastes have been there for decades, and I am concerned that leakage of contaminants into the local groundwater flow system has occurred…it is possible that contaminants will be spread around the site and washed off of the site into local surface water ditches during rain…this may be beginning to occur.” Wilf Ruland expresses concerns about how these issues are handled in the Annual report, and gives a series of recommendations, calling for these serious issues to be dealt with adequately and promptly.
In response to these and other concerns, The Hoskanigetah and HALT are demanding further environmental assessment and for the provincial government to take responsibility for the Edwards landfill site and to clean it up. The Hoskanigetah have recently released the following message :
“By the process of consensus, be it known that the Hoskanigetah of the Grand River have come to one mind that the contamination that came from the former Resin Plant of Cayuga is a hazard to life wherever it was illegally dumped.”
As such, the Hoskanigetah will prevent the reactivation of the site, will conduct their own environmental review, and assert their “jurisdiction and Sovereign rights confirmed, outlined, and guaranteed in perpetuity by the language of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, and the Two Row Wampum of 1604.” They state, “…we the Hoskanigetah will no longer endure the attempted subjugation of our responsibilities, freedoms and collective rights” when it comes to protecting the land, and maintaining the well being of future generations.
The message from the Hoskanigetah can be found in full at http://www.6nsolidarity.wordpress.com