A group of farmers and residents from Thorhild County rallied on Tuesday against a proposed landfill in the county, which would take in waste from Edmonton.


About 20 people gather to protest a landfill proposal in Thorhild County. ((CBC))

The Concerned Citizens of Thorhild County is concerned that toxic material from the dumpsite could leach into the groundwater and affect nearby lakes and streams.

Wearing pink caps bearing the phrase "Stop the dump" and carrying banners that read "Save our water," about 20 people gathered outside the Edmonton offices of Waste Management Canada, the company behind the proposal.

The group demanded an independent environmental impact assessment and an end to the proposal.

"The majority are against it. There has already been a petition circulated and 1,200 residents have signed it," said Dean Flach, a cattle farmer in Thorhild County, about 100 kilometers northeast of Edmonton.

'Our land in that area is marginal, but it doesn't mean it's not valuable.' —John Kirk, Thorhild County farmer

"There are only 3,000 people in the county, so I think that's a fairly representative number," said Flach, who is concerned that future generations will have to pay for the site's cleanup "when it eventually starts to leak."

Waste Management said it has completed drilling and testing in the area, and maintains the proposed operation is safe and will create jobs.

The company also said the residential and industrial waste planned for the site — approximately 500,000 tons per year — will not be hazardous.

But many residents are not convinced.


John Kirk and his family have been farming near the proposed landfill site for five generations. ((CBC))

"I live by a little lake that is 40 feet deep. It's spring fed. We raise fish in there, we drink the water, we swim in the water," said John Kirk, who has a farm about three kilometres from the proposed site. 

His biggest fear is having that water contaminated.

"Our land in that area is marginal, but it doesn't mean it's not valuable," said Kirk, whose family has farmed on his land for five generations.

Waste Management first received approval to develop the land from the County of Thorhild in June 2006. The company still needs to file a development application with both the county and the provincial government.

Betty Kolewaski, vice-chair of the Concerned Citizens of Thorhild County, said their requests to meet with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Rob Renner, Alberta's environment minister, have gone unanswered.