Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia orders Yarmouth to clean up compost-garbage dump site

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment has ordered the Town of Yarmouth to clean up a site where it dumped compost peppered with garbage last fall.

Plastics, cutlery among 'compost' spread by Town of Yarmouth over area near Lake George

Adam Russell walks through a garbage-filled field near his home in Lake George, Yarmouth County. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment has ordered the Town of Yarmouth to clean up a site where it dumped compost peppered with garbage last fall.

Some homes in the Lake George area are now showing high levels of lead and phenol in their water and residents want the cleanup to be done carefully so their water supply isn't further compromised.

Plastics, cutlery and other materials that clearly shouldn't be put into a compost bin are now sitting next to Adam Russell's home.

"One of my main concerns were the sharp objects that have been popping up," said Russell.

"Being a kid at one time, you know you're always curious, you know, 'What's that shining over there?' So I'm worried about my four year old."

Mayor apologizes

The municipal compost was supposed to be Class B, a less pure type that contains as much as three pieces of sharp glass per half litre. But some residents have disputed that what was dumped even meets Class B.

The debris was spread over the site of an old sawmill. The town's plan was to reclaim the land and seed it, turning it into a field.

But now the first order of business will be cleaning it up — carefully. More than 100 people turned out for an information meeting last night.

Yarmouth resident Marianne Manuge said the contamination of the water in the Lake George area has shaken public trust. (CBC)

"Why aren't we aggressively protecting our resources and the health of citizens?" asked Marianne Manuge. "Again our public trust is lost."

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood has apologized for what happened.

"The foreign matter, it's just off the charts," said Mood. "I have no idea how that happened and we have to look into that as well."

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood says the town is looking into how garbage came to be mixed with compost that was spread over a field in the Lake George area. (CBC)

'We couldn't believe what was there'

Some residents in the area have had their well water tested. High concentrations of lead and phenol are showing up.

Rob Gray is now bringing bottled water into his home. He's still in disbelief over what has happened in his rural neighbourhood.

"When we all got up and saw it, we were like, 'Holy cow,'" said Gray. "We just couldn't believe what was there when the snow came off here."

Some of the compost the Town of Yarmouth spread over a field in the Lake George area once occupied by a sawmill. (CBC)

Russell was suspicious when he saw the first truckload of material dumped last fall. He called to complain right away.

"I made a few extra calls when I saw these trucks rolling in with these materials and I left messages that I had concerns with the plastic and the garbage and all the stuff that was being dumped," said Russell.

"I asked they please get back to me, but nobody returned my phone call."

The Environment Department has ordered the town to complete the cleanup work by May 2.

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