Landfill closure comes at huge cost


By Ken Waddell 

The Neepawa Banner

It’s been 10 years since Neepawa and area received federal and provincial funding to build the regional landfill known as Evergeen Environmental Technologies. Funding was provided for the regional site after years of study about the need for a regional approach to waste management. Three major centres, including Carberry, Minnedosa and Neepawa-Langford all had been advised by Environment Manitoba that their respective landfills were reaching the end of their legal lifespan based on provincial regulations.

The largest facility replaced by Evergreen was the Neepawa-Langford landfill just east of Neepawa. In use for many decades, it was closed in 2004. Closed but not de-commissioned, it has not been used by the public for years. Now the Province of Manitoba is insisting there be a decommissioning plan put in place and that plan calls for the site to be capped with a clay-like soil and sealed off. The problem is that while money was put up by the senior levels of government to build Evergreen, there’s been no funds forthcoming to seal off the old site.

According to Denis Saquet, Town of Neepawa Manager of Operations, MMM Group, a Winnipeg engineering firm, did a study for a proposal to decommission the landfill. When tenders were opened to complete the proposal, prices ranged from $1.4 million to $2.6 million. Needless to say, Saquet recommended that the Town of Neepawa Council look at another way of decommissioning the site.

The old landfill is surrounded by 17 bleachate test wells, some have been in place for many years. Tests at some of the wells show an “elevated level of heavy metals which will continue to be monitored,” according to Saquet.

Saquet explained in an interview with The Neepawa Banner that the capping is estimated  to take “37,000 cubic yards of material and even to move free dirt, it costs $3 a yard.”  Rather than hiring an outside company at a tendered cost of $1.4 million or more, Saquet hopes to guide the decommissioning process himself and bring in the cost to the town at a somewhat lesser amount.

Kayla Hagenson is the Manitoba Environment officer involved with the process. When asked about the process and what would happen if the Town of Neepawa didn’t comply with the regulations, she declined to comment and deferred the request to a communications specialist with the government.

A provincial spokesperson said, “The site needs to be capped with half a metre of clay material followed by 6  inches of topsoil so it can be seeded to grass.  Since this site disposed of waste above ground, all sides need to be graded at a 4:1 slope.  Groundwater monitoring had been completed at this site in the past and therefore there is an ongoing groundwater monitoring requirement for this site.

Failure to meet the requirements could lead to actions such as a warning, ticket, order to do the work, etc.

The provinces Waste Disposal Ground Regulations under the Environment Act do not state what the penalties would actually be. Apparently they don’t know. 

In the past 10 years, the Town of Neepawa has been adding earth to the landfill site as it has become available and gradually re-shaping the top so it is smooth and will shed water rather than have water percolate through the accumulated waste.

Editor’s note: The fact that the site has been unused for 10 years and ground water has been carefully monitored for all that time would lead any logical person to believe that a capping costing $1.4 million would be excessive. The province is very vague on what the penalties are for non-compliance. This is yet another case of senior levels of governments selectively bullying towns and municipalities. The Town of Neepawa and the RM of North Cypress-Langford should level off the top of the old landfill, seed some grass and plant some trees and that’s it. If the province doesn’t like that solution, then they can pay for a higher level of remediation as the the landfill is causing no environmental damage even as it currently sits. There is no way that the Town of Neepawa and the RM of North Cypress-Langford should be saddled with a big bill for work that is totally unnecessary. K.W.