By Chris Pickup

“We have a new municipal building, a brand new arena, new parks are going to be happening, new stores….. and a horrid smell,” Cayuga resident Cory Ross told council Monday night.

Ross was representing himself and a council chamber full of other Cayuga residents who have been plagued with a stench emitting from the Brooks Rd landfill site, 3.5. km east of Cayuga.

Council had waived normal procedure to allow Ross to speak.

Despite complaints to a Ministry of Environment (MOE) phone number, “there have been absolutely no positive changes in remediation of the smell,” Ross said. “It’s been one and a half years since we first noticed it.”

There appears to be one individual at the other end of the MOE phone “who sometimes calls back,” he added. They keep the complaints on file but there are no responses.

I can’t enjoy my home in town with the horrid smell surrounding us, and no solutions in sight. I’m worried about my own wellbeing and the health of my family,” as well as the rest of the residents.

He also wonders what it’s doing to real estate prices

There have been quarterly public meetings called by Brooks Rd. Environmental, he said, but they are badly advertised and most people have no clue they are taking place.

The next meeting is at the fire hall in Cayuga March 4 at 7 pm, he added.

“Halt the Dump group was right,” Ross said. “It should never have been opened.”

“It doesn’t affect you until it’s in your backyard.”

He pleaded with council for their help.

Councillor Bernie Corbett said he was in town for a tour of the new municipal building last Thursday and had noticed the “aroma”. But it’s down to the MOE and “not within our jurisdiction”, he noted.

Councillor John Metcalfe said he had been to one of the Brooks environmental meetings, and that the problem is the leachate and how it’s pumped out. He was promised by the owners of the property they were going to do better, that they have consultants.

“What’s real is the smell,” said Mayor Ken Hewitt. “It’s a dramatic change from what was happening over the past couple of years.”

A representative from Brooks was there Monday to speak at council’s invitation.

Brooks Environmental project manager and site engineer, Tim Daniluk (sp?) explained the site had a long and complicated history.

It was municipally owned when in the seventies the MOE made the decision to dispose of resin from St. Lawrence Resin at the site, he said. Then it became Edwards Landfill and after “decades of haphazard waste management”, Brooks Environmental became owners in 2012.

Hazardous wastes inherited from the previous operators were disposed of by Brooks at no cost to the municipality, the project manager said. Basically, “It’s gone from a rural dump to a modern engineered facility.” 

The odour is from leachate in contact with waste, that the company is required to store until it’s safe for removal. In order to mitigate the odour the company changed the type of material accepted from a majority of demolition waste to a majority of contaminated soil with little or no odour.

Substantial improvements have been made over the last four months, he said, with membrane replacement, processing efficiencies, and additional equipment.

In addition there is daily odour monitoring throughout town, third party  monitoring, and odour control products such as an odour control mister, carbon control, filtration on the leachate plant.

Brooks is using the newest innovative odour control process using a special microbial culture process that uses bacteria, he said, which has been found effective in Greece, Houston and Ohio.

A vertical capacity expansion has been approved for the site which will cap waste more permanently, effectively reducing leachate generation of odour. An interim cap allowed rain to get caught within the leachate system causing more odour. 

The company is starting to recap with a more impermeable cap. They want to do progressive closure and not wait for capacity in about five years.  Capacity is governed on two fronts, Daniluk said. How much can we treat, and where it can be received. 

“The MOE needs to expedite the process. We need political pressure,” Hewitt said, who readily admitted he didn’t understand half of what the site manager said.

“i appreciate the history,” councillor Dan Lawrence commented. “But that was then, this is now. 

There’s bacteria and with that comes illness. Warm weather is coming, we all know what happens with warm weather. There is some urgency to this.”

He noted our MPP didn’t attend the meeting at ROMA and called for a notice of motion that MPP Toby Barrett be requested to attend a meeting to discuss matters of municipal and provincial interest.

Hewitt added “We can’t make the MOE do a dance on a dime, but we can push our local representative. This is the start of a game plan.”

This is not acceptable he told the attendees. We’re going to work with them and you.