New Brunswick

Fredericton landfill reports 2 leachate leaks since 2005

Documents obtained under Right to Information show two incidents at the Fredericton Region Solid Waste facility resulted in leachate escaping from containment at least twice since 2005.

Documents show monitoring wells could not be located, others broken, leaking

Documents show that there have been at least two instances of leachete escaping containment at the Fredericton Solid Waste facility in the last 10 years. (CBC)

The Fredericton Region Solid Waste landfill has dealt with at least two incidents of leachate escaping from containment since 2005, according to new documents.

Documents obtained through the Right to Information Act show that in 2007 staff found leachate leaking out of containment from a berm. The report shows staff quickly plugged the leak and excavated the surrounding soil. 

In another incident, a heavy November rainfall caused a waste lagoon to nearly overflow in 2005. Reports state levels in the lagoon came within 30 centimetres of overflowing.

Brad Janes, manager of education and public relations at Fredericton Solid Waste, said that crews responded quickly when leaks occurred. (CBC)
"We diverted all that overflow water," said Brad Janes, manager of education and public relations at Fredericton Region Solid Waste.

"None of that water, or leachate was ever released because overflow." 

Leachate is water and liquid that drains from the landfill and is supposed to be contained because of the environmental hazard it can pose. 

But the soil surrounding the pond was contaminated, documents show. 

Engineering reports state leachate did rise above the clay liner of the holding pond and saturated the soil in some areas.

Correspondence between engineers and managers indicate leachate from that incident was possibly being detected as late as July of last year.

High levels  

Nine test wells were listed as missing and possibly destroyed in 2014 environmental report. (CBC)
Reports also show that in 2015 the landfill detected higher than acceptable levels of some elements in their leak-detection manholes. 

"Something did occur and mostly metals appear high but also some organics were abnormally high, as well," wrote auditing environmental engineer Naveed Majid of Freelance Environmental Inc, a third-party environmental monitoring firm.

Majid termed the levels of chloride, manganese, and sodium as concerning and abnormally high.

The reports did not detail what led to the high levels, and Janes said he could not speak to them either.

In some cases the high levels were recorded for several months before returning to acceptable levels. 

Missing test wells 

A 2014 Environmental Monitoring Compliance Report, done by Freelance Environmental Inc., states that nine monitoring wells could not be located and were most likely destroyed.

Seven monitoring wells were also listed as broken and leaking. Email correspondence from Janes shows four of the seven had since been repaired.

So the disappearance and all this espionage stuff is just, it's in a report, it's part of a report There's nothing to see, nothing to be here. And that's the goodness truth right there.- Brad Janes

Tom MacNeil, an environmental engineer of Gemtec Ltd., said monitoring wells are vital to understanding the state of water below the Earth's surface.

"You're able to take samples from monitoring wells to analyze them for various parameters" said MacNeil.

"If a well is damaged it should typically be replaced."

The third-party report came to the same conclusion and recommended the installation of four new monitoring wells at varying depths.

The commission's spokesperson downplayed the issues raised by the consultant's report.

Tom McNeil, an environmental engineer with Gemtec Ltd., said monitoring wells are crucial to understanding the health of water underground. (CBC)
"Any industrial site, any place of work, there are going to be maintenance issues," said Janes

Janes said the auditors were working with outdated maps locating the test wells.

"Things are continuously progressing up here," said Janes.

"So if that original map showed a suite of wells in one spot, perhaps in 1991 those were moved. So when a third-party consultant came in looking for those, didn't see them. They had been moved. So the disappearance and all this espionage stuff is just, it's in a report, it's part of a report There's nothing to see, nothing to be here. And that's the goodness truth right there."

Janes provided additional documentation Wednesday showing four wells replaced nine wells that were decommissioned in 2013. Janes says the wells that could not be located had been decomissioned.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated nine wells are missing currently. Fredericton Region Solid Waste has provided documentation which shows four wells have replaced nine wells decommissioned in 2013. Brad Janes says the wells that could not be located had been decommissioned.
    May 04, 2016 11:50 AM AT

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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