School board worried about student safety if Dresden dump revived

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Protesters outside The Wheelhouse in Dresden press their signs up against windows as the meeting with York1 on its proposal to revive a dump north of the town went Feb. 10.

Plans to send concerns about York1 Environmental’s plan to Ministry of Environment

BLAKE ELLIS/LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE

The Lambton Kent District School Board is its voice to the rising concerns about the
proposal to reopen and expand a Dresden area landfill by York1 Environmental
Waste Solutions.

The company purchased the former wood waste recycling centre in Dec. 2022. In 1980, it was licensed as a landfill to accept the ash from the Town of Dresden’s garbage incinerator. Today, Chatham-Kent officials say, it has no capacity to landfill.

But York1 Environmental wants to landfill up to 1,000 tonnes of waste per day at the site as it builds a recycling centre for construction waste. The company’s proposal says up to 700 trucks could arrive at the site daily bringing 6,000 tonnes of materials and soil. That’s generated an outcry in Dresden, which is just one kilometre from the landfill on Irish School Road and about two kilometres south of Lambton County.

Chatham-Kent councillors called for the Ministry of the Environment to reject the proposal Feb. 26.

Trustees voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday to provide input during the
consultation phase raising concerns for student and staff safety as traffic increases.

Trustee Angie Richards brought forward the motion as she is has many concerns
about the proposed development. Among them is how the hundreds trucks a
day the landfill will be expecting will impact the safety of students travelling by
school bus.

She also has concerns about what this will do for people’s health with
the presence of fly ash and constituent toxins, and pointed to increased risk of lung
disease, kidney disease and gastrointestinal illness, as well as potential to impact the
nervous system, causing cognitive defects and behavioural problems. Richards is
also concerned about the lack of adequate emergency response capabilities in the
area.

The school district has already started its consultation about how this development
may impact students and staff, said Lambton Kent’s Director of Education John
Howitt. This consultation has included the manager of CLASS, which oversees the
school bussing in Lambton Kent. The estimates Howitt has been given to the number
of trucks which could be travelling in the area due to the landfill expansion is larger
than what Richards has stated.

As for Richard’s concerns about impacts to health, Howitt said it would be more
appropriate for public health departments and emergency medical services to
respond, as the school district is not an expert with these matters.

The school district will provide input through the Environmental Registry of Ontario
prior to the March 16 deadline.

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