SCUGOG: Confirming the fears of many in the community, recent borehole testing by Golder Associates has revealed contaminated soil at the Greenbank Airways site.
The results come after the investigation by Golder Associates - the firm recently hired by the municipality to carry out independent testing at the site - found that 22 of 45 soil samples that had been taken from the site exceeded the township’s contamination standards.
“We had been made aware that some tests had come back with exceedances, but we were totally surprised by the extent of the contaminated fill present on site,” said Mayor Tom Rowett.
On Monday, May 4, Scugog Council voted to work with Loopstra Nixon LLP and Golder Associates Ltd. to ensure that no more fill be added to the Greenbank Airport site and to further investigate the fill on the site.
At a meeting on Thursday, March 12, council passed a motion to do at least 10 borehole tests on the Greenbank Airways site. $50,000 was put into the testing from the township’s previous fill revenue.
Mayor Rowett attempted to address the crowd at the council meeting on Monday morning, but informed everyone that he had to consult first with the township’s legal representatives. However, he did comment in a press release from the township that, “Since site alteration activities, including commercial fill operations of the scale encountered here, are not directly regulated by the Ministry of the Environment, the township must ensure that all land owners fully comply with their contractual and environmental obligations.”
Robert Munshaw, owner of the Greenbank airport, has been told by the township to perform groundwater and surface water investigations to ensure the contaminants have not spread, as well as to come up with a plan to remove all contaminated soil. His legal team has been in contact with council about these concerns. The township is waiting for a timeline on when those issues at the site can be addressed.
Before testing began, Mr. Munshaw had previously applied for a renewal of the site alteration permit. The permit expired on Tuesday, March 31. Soil stopped moving to the site on Wednesday, April 1.
Mr. Munshaw did not reply for requests for comment from The Standard.
The township is currently working with its environment advisors as well as Loopstra Nixon LLP to determine its next steps.
The Greenbank Airways site is on the corner of Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 47 and is close to the headwaters of the Nonquon River. Carmela Marshall of the Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water said the organization is happy with Council's response, but thinks there is a steep road ahead for clean-up efforts at the site.
"We are grateful for the leadership this current Council has shown on this issue. There are contamination levels on the Greenbank site that have us particularly concerned as our research indicates there is potential of these contaminants leaching into the groundwater,” she said. "Council is going to have to be brave and ensure the right thing is done here.”
Mayor Rowett added that the Township will have to keep a closer watch on the actions of Mr. Munshaw if they plan to continue working with Greenbank Airways.
“If in the future we do proceed with a new agreement with Greenbank Airways, we will most certainly increase our opportunities for independent, objective monitoring and oversight,” he said.