Nfld. & Labrador

Garbage crisis in Forteau: Overflowing dump, desperate community

With a local official calling the dump "dangerous", there's no immediate solution in place for the trash problem plaguing southern Labrador.

Local officials have temporary solution, but province slow to give permission

This photo of the overflowing Forteau dump dates to late 2015. (Submitted by Forteau Town Council)

A town in southern Labrador is sounding the alarm bell that its dump is stogged, but the provincial government isn't speeding up its plans to deal with the problem in Forteau.

"That dump site right now is dangerous," Didier Nalleau, head of the Combined Councils of Labrador and the mayor of Pinware, told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"Fires are burning constantly, toxic waste is being thrown in there. There is no control because there is no money to pay someone to control the dump site on a regular basis."

Nalleau said the dump is totally full, and hampered by the lack of a compactor that would at least crush containers and other unwieldy items to save space, a problem made worse by Muskrat Falls contractors working in the area.

"Right now with companies like Valard and Nalcor that are here, they're using our site as well. Everything from pallets to huge containers are being thrown in there," he said.

"We can't survive anymore."

Nalleau said the temporary solution is to dig a new hole at a cost of $6,000 to ease the immediate crisis, but it needs the provincial government to sign off before any shovels hit the ground.

Government responds

Minister of Municipal Affairs Eddie Joyce said he understands people are worried.

Minister Eddie Joyce says government officials will visit southern Labrador in June to discuss the dump. (CBC)

"What we need to do is sit down with the municipalities and work out a temporary solution," Joyce said.

Officials will be in the area around the first week of June to try to work out the next steps, although he could not specify what those steps might be.

Joyce has his sights set on a permanent solution — a new, regional dump facility that has been given the go-ahead by an independent consultant.

That project has not yet gone through the environmental assessment process or been let for tender, although Joyce said the government is aiming for the fall as the latest time to start construction.

"I don't want to give a date, because once you give a date, if it goes past that date, all of a sudden its 'well you said this,'" he said.

'Huge amount of trouble'

Nalleau said while a long term solution is "urgently" needed, the regional idea has proved contentious so far with local municipalities, with worries that the proposed site near Mary's Harbour will be too far for people to go dump their garbage.

Didier Nalleau says the proposed regional dump site for southern Labrador would be near Mary's Harbour, and worries about that distance being too far. (Google Maps)

"The whole straits might become a huge dumpsite, because people are probably going to become tired of waiting for the waste to be picked up," he said.

"We already have a huge issue with waste being thrown from car windows and stuff like this."

But those concerns take a back seat to the immediate capacity issue at the Forteau dump, which appears nowhere near resolved.

"We can't fill it up anymore, apart from building a mountain on top of it."

With files from Labrador Morning