Karen Wood is concerned the biosolids being stored at Highway 402 and Nauvoo Road are about to spill out onto the road.
The Warwick Township resident has been imploring officials from the township, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture to do something about it.
David Buurma owns Lasalle Agri – an agricultural company which provides farmers with biosolids for fertilizer. Each day, according to records from the Ministry of the Environment obtained by Wood, his company brings a truckload of the product made from human waste from Detroit to the Nauvoo Road facility. From there, it is delivered to local farmers when they need it.
In the last few months, as farmers struggled to get their crop into the field, the pile has been growing. Originally, a tarp covered an area about the size of a football field. The tarp remains and the biosolid pile stretches to the edge of the property – about 100 meters from Nauvoo Road. “The biosolids he’s bringing in now are about to spill out onto the highway,” Woods told Warwick Township council Monday. “My concern now is when the trucks come off the highway, and go right into the site, they’re dumping (the product) right in the front…It looks like the Tower of Babel.”
Woods has been voicing her concern for sometime now. The smells coming from the site prompted her to look into the company and the fertilizer. Wood talked to the Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture about the rules surrounding biosolids and their safety and has not received a lot of answers.
One of Woods biggest concerns is what the pile of biosolids is leaving behind. “You cannot tell me that’s not going onto other fields in the area when it rains…It is getting to the point where the land is so contaminated…we, as residents, are going to end up with a big cleanup operation.”
Woods has been passing along her concerns and findings to Warwick councillors during public meetings.
But Warwick already knows some of the problems. The township has been dealing with concerns about the biosolids for two years, according to Administrator Amanda Gubbels. Most recently, it charged Lasalle Agri under the township’s zoning bylaw. The township says Lasalle Agri is running a commercial operation on agricultural land. Lasalle Agri has argued the fertilizer is an agricultural use. The case is in court now with the latest round of pretrial arguments set for Aug. 13.
Mayor Jackie Rombouts shares Woods concerns. She recently approached a Ministry of the Environment official at a Lambton Area Water Supply System meeting to talk about the township’s concerns about what the fertilizer affects on ground water. The MOE representative promised to look into it.
The township has also been asking for meetings with the Minister of the Environment for months now, with no response. “We are desperate to get help here because we see a major problem,” says Rombouts. When people call her to complain about the smells coming from the site, she now gives the owner’s number out, telling them to call directly. “He’s human, like the rest of us, he needs to know the impact he’s having.”
Buurma has stopped talking directly with the township due to the court case. The Independent contacted Buurma to ask why the product was piling up – he declined to speak with us.
What is know is Buurma is planning a new site for Lasalle Agri in Adelaide Metcalfe. But his plans are running into problems there as well. The township has placed an interim control bylaw on the property making development impossible for another year.
Buurma’s lawyer said in a letter to the township the interim control bylaw “targeted” Lasalle Agri. Buurma, in a Facebook post, added “All the complaints came out before anyone contacted myself or saw our proposal. There is a 160-page document sent to Adelaide Township which addresses all of the concerns.”
Meantime, in Warwick, Woods wants to know what Lasalle Agri is going to do about the growing pile of biosolids should he not be able to sell it all to local farmers. “He needs to have a contingency plan, to move it or contain it.”