Ultimatum sent to province over overflowing landfill in Forteau

The Labrador Straits Waste Disposal Committee is so fed up with the beyond-full, smouldering dump in Forteau that it’s sent an ultimatum to the province: offer up an alternative landfill by Jan. 17, or we’ll make one.

Labrador Straits Waste Disposal Committee wants to hear from the department of municipal affairs by Jan. 17

This picture from 2015 shows the smouldering Forteau, N.L., dump. (Fourteau town council)

The Labrador Straits Waste Disposal Committee is so fed up with the beyond-full, smouldering dump in Forteau that it's sent an ultimatum to the province: offer up an alternative landfill by Jan 17, or we'll make one.

The group has a site in mind — an old quarry about 12 kilometres from the existing Crow Head dump.

The 400-square-foot pit has fill readily available to cover anything dumped there, according to committee chair Shane Dumaresque, but it likely wouldn't meet the province's environmental landfill standards.

After a number of dump fires at its overflowing facility, Forteau town council said it desperately needed a new landfill. Its hope was to have it by spring 2016. (Submitted )

"We're familiar with the impacts of creating this new waste fill facility," he told CBC's Labrador Morning ,adding that all communities within the Straits are on board with his plan.  

"We're all from Labrador, we love Labrador, we'd never do anything to hurt Labrador, so that's it."

He sent a letter to the Department of Municipal Affairs on Dec. 20 — shortly after the dump caught fire — outlining a Jan. 17 deadline for response.

One site plan

A single regional facility for the Labrador Straits and Southern Labrador has been greenlit by an independent consultant.

We'd never do anything to hurt Labrador,- Shane Dumaresque

It would service the 500-kilometre stretch from Cartwright to L'Anse au Clair and be located around the halfway mark.

"Everywhere I look on television, we're in a fiscal crisis and stuff. I don't see the point in wasting $6 million on a dump that nobody wants," Dumaresque said.

He said the province's money would go towards the facility but communities would be responsible for the cost of transporting garbage there.

Dumaresque estimates taxpayers would have to pay between $400 and $600 dollars a year for the service, up from the current $37.13 garbage collection fee.

The dump in Forteau is at capacity and posing major problems for the town's residents, says the deputy mayor. (CBC)

"Eighty per cent of the demographic in the Labrador Straits and probably even Southern Labrador are 65 years old and older. Most people here are on a fixed income," he said.

His quarry plan would raise the existing fee to about $50 or $60.

"So, fiscally I think I'm being responsible and environmentally, I feel I'm being responsible."

Cartwright seconds multi-site model

Cartwright is on the other far end from the proposed regional dump.

'I've been opposed to it right from day one.' - Cartwright Mayor Dwight Lethbridge

"Yeah, I think it's a terrible idea. I've been opposed to it right from Day 1." said Mayor Dwight Lethbridge.

"I think to be trucking the garbage for a population of 500 people 250 kilometres on gravel road is insane."

Lethbridge said Cartwright's landfill is also in "deplorable" condition, is nearing capacity and needs to shut down.

"We're not far behind Forteau," he said.

"They've got a crisis situation. The province hasn't been able to deal with it — they haven't been able to come up with a solution that suits us as communities."


In a statement to the CBC, a spokesperson for the Department of Municipal Affairs said it "recently approved provincial funding of $41,140 to assist with the cost of hiring a contractor to level and bury excess waste at the Crow Head landfill site in Forteau" as a means to extend the life of the dump while it works on finding a longer-term solution.

It states any alternative site would have to be approved by Service NL and meet both environmental and engineering standards.

The dump in Forteau, N.L., has been overflowing for a number of years and regularly catches fire. (Submitted)

"The department has been working with the Labrador Straits Waste Disposal Committee to develop a waste management solution in consultation with the [federal] Department of Environment and Climate Change and communities in the region," the statement continues.

"A new proposed site has been submitted for environmental assessment."

Meanwhile, Dumaresque, the chair of the waste disposal group, said the Department of Municipal Affairs hasn't been in touch.

"I don't know what [the department is] doing because nobody has contacted me for anything," he said.

Without word from government by Jan. 17, Dumaresque said the Labrador Straits committee will deny access to Forteau's existing Crow Head dump and start bringing trash to the old quarry.