Proposed regional dump in southern Labrador raising environmental concerns

The dump situation in southern Labrador is dire according to the region’s municipalities, but many aren’t welcoming the proposed fix.

The site under consideration is on a hill 2 kilometres away from a popular salmon river

St. Lewis is the community closest to the proposed site. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The dump situation in southern Labrador is dire according to the region's municipalities, but many aren't welcoming the proposed 10-year fix.

The Department Municipal Affairs and Environment is conducting an environmental assessment for a regional facility located 2.2 kilometres from the St. Lewis River, a tourist attraction known for its salmon.

Alton Rumbolt is the mayor of Mary's Harbour. He's concerned about runoff from the proposed regional dump facility. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"The location, that's one of the major problems," Alton Rumbolt, the mayor of Mary's Harbour, told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"It could run right out into our bay."

Fishermen's fears

Fisherman Thomas Pye has been working in the inshore fishery — near St. Lewis and Lodge Bay — since 1977.

It's going to to ruin the whole fishery in the whole bay.- Thomas Pye

"It's going to to ruin the whole fishery in the whole bay," he said.

"I can't even understand in the first place why they even picked St. Lewis's River area because it's a big river — salmon river. [There's] crab in the area … and whelk, cod fish. I don't get it."

Initial construction of the site, according to the provincial government, would accommodate up to 10 years of waste with the possibility of an expansion.

Unlined facility

According to the deputy mayor of St. Lewis, the province is considering an unlined facility with a ditch around the dump as a measure to contain runoff.

The proposed site sits between St. Lewis River and a watershed area.

The proposed site has the St. Lewis River on one side of it and a watershed area on the other. The Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment says the environmental assessment into the location it's considering is ongoing. (Submitted by the town of St. Lewis)

"I can't pretend to be an expert on that stuff but they're saying that it's fine … and they'll be monitoring it all the time," said Helen Poole.

"It's OK to say on paper but I'd like to find out more about it."

She said residents are concerned and she hopes to see case studies of unlined facilities used elsewhere in the province that have worked.

The department said in its statement that the potential impact of the proposed regional dump will be looked at through the environmental assessment process.

Other concerns

The regional facility would cover Labrador's south coast and the straits from Cartwright to L'Anse au Clair — communities that are spread more than 400 kilometres apart on a mostly dirt road.

The proposed site is located 2.2 kilometres from the St. Lewis River. (Submitted by the town of St. Lewis)

Some community leaders want multiple facilities, saying the one-dump system could lead to illegal dumping.

"If you've got to go a two-hour drive or more … A lot of people are not going to do it," said Rumbolt.

There's also concern about cost.

Both a single-site option and having several waste facilities will mean higher garbage removal fees for the region's aging population.

About the Author

Katie Breen


Katie Breen reports on Labrador from CBC's bureau in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.