by SUSAN MANN
A Grey County citizens’ organization plans to appeal the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s approvals concerning the construction of a biosolids to liquid fertilizer manufacturing facility in a business park near Dundalk.
James Cooke, spokesman of Southgate Public Interest Research Group, says he hasn’t yet reviewed the environment ministry compliance approvals for the Lystek International Inc. facility. But while some people have said the approvals are an indication the location of Lystek’s facility is okay, “it is not,” he says.
Lystek is currently in the midst of building its Southgate Organic Material Recovery Centre in the Township of Southgate’s Eco Industrial Park, located southwest of Dundalk, to turn municipal, farm and food processing biosolids into a fertilizer product. Kevin Litwiller, Lystek business development director, says they found out Oct. 9 their air, noise, waste plus storm and surface water environmental compliance approvals were granted.
“We will defend ourselves vigorously” if the approvals are appealed, Litwiller says.
Kate Jordan, environment ministry spokesperson, says conditions were included in the approvals to respond to input the ministry heard from the community. For example, Lystek needs to develop a groundwater protection plan, use alternate truck routes from the ones proposed by the company, and establish a public advisory committee.
Jordan says the ministry did a comprehensive review of the company’s applications and “we are satisfied they can meet all our standards and ministry approval requirements. We do support facilities like this that divert waste from landfills and that process waste.”
In the ministry’s review, “we ensured the application was based on sound science and that they demonstrated compliance with ministry requirements,” she says.
Cooke says the ministry’s granting the approvals doesn’t alleviate SPIRG’s concerns about biosolids, frequently referred to as sludge, being spread on land. No one can really know what’s in the biosolids the company will process because provincial regulations only require testing for 20 chemicals and heavy metals; “the rest isn’t tested,” he says.
He says there are representatives from Six Nations who will lead the appeal. But Lonny Bomberry, director of lands and resources for the Six Nations elected council says it isn’t the council that’s leading the appeal. The elected council doesn’t have a position yet on the Lystek project “because I haven’t formally taken it to them.”
Bomberry toured the Lystek site as a representative of council and says personally he thinks it’s a great project. “It presents no danger whatsoever to the Grand River,” he says. “There isn’t a wetland located within a mile from there unless you consider the township’s lagoon system a wetland.”
Litwiller says all the material they’re using to manufacture their fertilizer is non-hazardous because it has to meet environment ministry guidelines “in order for us to even accept it at our processing plant.” Lystek will also test its incoming source material to ensure it complies with ministry guidelines.
He adds that the facility’s development has been a more than year-long process that’s culminated in this month’s Superior Court decision to reject SPIRG’s challenge of the municipality granting a building permit to Lystek and the environment ministry issuing compliance approvals.
Any costs the company incurs if SPIRG appeals will be added to Lystek’s request for reimbursement of lawyers’ fees and lost revenue in connection with the Superior Court ruling and another Superior Court decision earlier this year ordering SPIRG to remove its blockade of the roadway leading into the Eco park. The blockade had prevented the company from proceeding with the building’s construction.
Litwiller says the costs haven’t been finalized yet but they’re in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company will be seeking to recover those costs from both the SPIRG organization and individuals within the group.
The facility will be completed by Christmas and be up and running by the beginning of 2013, he says. It’ll employ eight to 10 operational, administrative and management people plus four to five laboratory workers and scientists. BF