Dallas residents push for action on biosolids project
NEWS/ ENVIRONMENT – Outraged that their health concerns have been ignored, a delegation of Dallas residents confronted City council on Tuesday, pushing for action to stop particular falling on them from a farm biosolids project located on benchland above.
“Our peace of mind, the health of our families and our animals is suffering,” said Georgina Green. “My request to council is to please help out taxpaying citizens.”
Since raising the issue with the City in June, the deposit of sawdust and biosolids dust has continued, say residents of a nearby mobile home park. Strong, gusting winds in Dallas exacerbate the problem, Green said.
Del Cori, another resident, held up a bag of dust removed from his RV, claiming that it originated from the biosolids spread on farmland high above. The bagged dust has not been analyzed to confirm that.
“We’re breathing that,” he said. “It’s contaminating us.”
Repeated calls to the Ministry of Environment have gone unanswered, the residents said. The provincial government issued the permit allowing the use of the sawdust pile.
Meanwhile, the City’s bylaw enforcement department has been working with the project operator, Arrow Transportation, to have the problem rectified. In partnership with Blackwell Dairy, Arrow trucks in Class A and B biosolids from the Lower Mainland. They mix biosolids with sawdust and soil to improve the arability of the farmland.
Jon Wilson, community safety and enforcement manager, maintained that the dust originates from a large sawdust pile, not from the biosolids, which are 70 per cent moisture.
Arrow agreed to relocate the sawdust pile, but this has proven more problematic than first thought, Wilson explained. The pile has been reduced by half, but they have had difficulty finding alternative sites for the sawdust and the act of removing it has stirred up more dust.
Arrow has also treated Blackwell Road with calcium chloride to control dust. The company contends that road dust from multiple sources, including a gravel pit, is primarily to blame for the dust problem, not the biosolids.
The company is working toward an Aug. 10 deadline for remedying the problem. Wilson urged council to wait until that date before considering its next course of action. Beyond that, the City could consider fining the company or undertaking its own cleanup and assessing Arrow for the cost.
“We want to see the site remediated as opposed to going into a legal battle,” Wilson said.
Coun Arjun Singh said the key issue is that the problem has worsened. He wondered what the City would do if it continues after Aug. 10.
Coun. Denis Walsh said the agricultural activity is unacceptable within city limits.
“The interface with residential is not compatible,” Walsh said. “I don’t know if this is going to foreshadow the issue we’re going to have with Ajax.”
Singh’s motion to have the matter reconsidered at council’s next meeting on Aug. 18 received unanimous support.