Everett Giles, former Saint Lawrence Resin Plant worker, discusses his concerns regarding the Saint Lawrence Resin Plant and Edwards Landfill.
Category Archives: Edwards Landfill
A summit is to be held November 5-6 on Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. Liaisons from First Nations Communities across Ontario have been invited, as have liaisons from municipalities along the Grand River, to participate in dialogue and formulating strategies for mutual environmental concerns.
The summit is open to observers, though participation is limited to invited liaisons.
One specific goal of the summit is to come together to identify contaminated landfill sites across southern Ontario. More broadly, the objectives of the summit are as follows:
1) To increase awareness among municipalities and groups about landfill issues.
2) To identify ways to work together to advance this issue, e.g., coalition
3) To identify legislative responses to landfill issues, including consideration of the creation of a Grand River Waterkeeper
4) To identify ways to get rid of garbage without the use of landfills.
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
As pressure continues to mount against the North Simcoe Landfill, an irresponsible waste dump that “was set up with a 1950s mindset,” a delegation from the Hoskanigetah (Six Nations Men’s Fire of the Grand River) warns about the possible re-opening of another dump site: the Edwards landfill, just outside of Cayuga, Ontario.
According to the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, “the Edwards landfill contains highly toxic material from an old resin plant in Cayuga which was dumped there in the 1950s, along with other medical, industrial and commercial waste.”
For several years now, members from the Six Nations community have been working alongside the non-native environmental coalition, HALT (Haldimand Against Land Transfers), to make sure no more waste is added to the dump.
Historically, they’ve taken the same approach that activists and the Council of Canadians are now taking with the North Simcoe Landfill: namely, they’ve filed legal challenges and, whenever trucks arrived to pile on more waste, they physically blocked access to the dump site. Fortunately, the trucks always turned back.
Their reason for opposition is straightforward, and too familiar for indigenous people in Canada: There are a number of serious health concerns among people living in the region of the Edwards landfill and several other nearby dump sites believed to hold waste from the former Resin Plan.
Commonsense (and basic human rights) tells us that each and every report should be investigated by the government and that the sites themselves, particularly the Edwards landfill, should be remediated.
Unfortunately, like the radar contamination sites effecting the Mushkegowuk Cree Nation, it just hasn’t happened.
And now, the Hoskanigetah warn, preparations appear to be underway for the landfill to receive more waste in the near future.
Read the full piece here:
Hoskanigetah Of the Grand River
P.O. Box #158
July 20, 2009
To all concerned,
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 all life wherever it was illegally dumped.
As such we the men:
• Will not permit reactivation of the Edwards Landfill site located in Cayuga.
• Will undertake the supervision of our own Environmental Review of contamination and its effect on life within Cayuga.
• Will uphold the rites given to us by Shonkwaia’ti:son (The Creator) as protectors of the land.
• Will assert our jurisdiction and Soveriegn rights confirmed, outlined, and guaranteed in perpetuity by the language of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, and the Two Row Wampum of 1604.
• Will look to have our concerns, but not limited to the following, addressed.
• The illegal dumping from the former St. Lawrence Resin Plant occurred at as many as six other sites (including Edwards) in and around Cayuga.
• A plume exists beneath and around not only Edwards Landfill, but other places within Cayuga.
• Dead animals have been found close to the Edwards Landfill.
• People living near these sites have been and still are at risk of illness and cancer.
• Former workers at the St. Lawrence Resin Plant, had or are having illness and/or cancer.
• Higher than normal rates of illness and/or cancer exist as compared to the national average.
• Women living near these sites have premature births.
• Women living near these sites have had miscarriages in either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd trimester.
• Deformities of a physical or mental nature have occurred.
• A higher or lower ratio of male to female birth rates have occurred.
• These sites (including Edwards Landfill) have and still are contaminating aquifers, underground streams, the water table, flooded gypsum mines, the Grand River and other communities down river including the St. Lawrence river system.
• There are possible deformities and/or illness of any kind among livestock by any means through the consumption of food and water and any other means.
• There are possible deformities and/or illness of any kind among household pets.
• The integrity of the same liner used at Edwards Landfill has been breached at other sites including the U.S., where it has been used.
• There is no contingency plan in case of liner failure.
Be it recognized that in holding with the consistent actions of the Hoskanigetah of the Grand River, that we uphold, follow and adhere to the Kianerekowa (the Great Law).
Be it further recognized that we the Hoskanigetah will no longer endure the attempted subjugation of our responsibilities, freedoms and collective rights.
Acting Recording Secretaty