Nova Scotia

Environment Department investigating Annapolis County business

Officials with Nova Scotia's Environment Department are investigating after a construction and demolition site in Annapolis County was found to be receiving material it was not permitted to accept.

Inspectors discovered so-called autofluff at Arlington Heights C&D Landfill in November

There was a fire at the Arlington Heights C&D Landfill in 2018. (Submitted by Jennifer Ehrenfeld-Poole )

Officials with Nova Scotia's Environment Department are investigating after a construction and demolition site in Annapolis County was found to be receiving material it was not permitted to accept.

Lori Skaine, the department's regional director for the western zone, said the discovery was made during a scheduled audit of the Arlington Heights C&D Landfill site in November.

"There was some deficiencies that were identified during that inspection and also, recently, we received complaints that the facility was using autofluff," Skaine said.

Autofluff is material left over from a car after the battery and fuel tank have been stripped and the metal has been scrapped. Materials such as plastics, foam, textiles, and rubber are all considered autofluff, according to the Automotive Recylclers of Canada website. A waste site needs approval to receive the material and Skaine said a municipal waste facility is the appropriate place.

Owner says she had department's OK

Citing the investigation, Skaine would not provide details about how much autofluff was found, how it came to be there or any cleanup plans that might be required.

But Jennifer Ehrenfeld-Poole, the site's owner, said she decided in October to stop receiving the material. She said it was because some people in the local community lacked understanding about the operation and the situation was causing her grief.

Ehrenfeld-Poole couldn't say how long she was accepting the material, but said it was no secret to the province.

"When we accepted autofluff, we did so with the OK from the Department of Environment," she said, adding that the site is subject to regular audits and inspectors were aware of what was happening there.

At the time, it wasn't specified where autofluff should go, said Ehrenfeld-Poole. She said her staff took the necessary precautions to accept the material and protect the environment.

Never approved

That is not how officials with the department remember it.

"In 2018, the facility had conversations with the department related to a possible amendment to their approval to allow them to accept autofluff," department spokesperson Barb MacLean said in an email.

"The approval was not amended. Autofluff has never been approved material to be accepted at a C&D facility."

Ehrenfeld-Poole said the material is a good replacement for aggregate, but it's unlikely she would apply for an amendment to begin taking it again.

That's good news to Andy George. He lives near the site and worked there part time several years ago.

Too long to act

George said he's been complaining to the department about the site since last spring and that autofluff routinely blew onto his property.

He's concerned about how long it took the department to act.

Skaine said there is no set timeline for how long an investigation takes, but that the department attempts to work with approval holders to reach compliance.

Other tools at the department's disposal include issuing directives, summary offence tickets, ministerial orders, laying charges in court and cancelling or suspending approvals.

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