March 18, 2006
 

City hauled into court

Waste Management, MOE part of realtor's $30M lawsuit

By DEREK PUDDICOMBE, OTTAWA SUN

A LOCAL REALTY company is suing the city, the operator of the Carp Rd. dump and the provincial Ministry of Environment for $30 million because land it owns near the dump site is "heavily contaminated."

Documents filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in November 2002, show Metcalfe Realty Co. claims that a wide range of contaminants -- including phosphorus, cyanide, barium, boron and lead -- have leached into about 100 acres of the realtor's land.

In the statement of claim, the company states "that the contamination and the resultant damage to its land were caused solely as a result of the migration of contamination from the lands owned by the defendant, Canadian Waste Services Inc. (now WM)."

Metcalfe Realty purchased the land in 1959 -- two years after the dump began operating -- for the sole purpose of long-term development. Due to the contamination, they say they are unable to sell or develop the property.

The company also claims that the landfill operator "continued to operate ... when it knew or ought to have known that the leachate emanating therefrom would be likely to cause contamination to the plaintiff or other adjoining landowners. It failed to take steps to treat or minimize the leachate emanating from its operation."

Metcalfe Realty says the operator also failed to place waste sufficiently above the water table, to perform adequate testing and failed to supervise and regulate waste products.

'CITY KNEW'

The company says the city is on the hook for part of the $30 million: "Ottawa knew that both the quantity of and nature of the waste deposited at the site ... was causing severe contamination to adjacent lands."

It also holds the city responsible for not warning property owners and "instead embarked on a systematic scheme to conceal the problem by installing municipal sewer and works so as to avoid the necessity of the adjoining landowners using their groundwater."

In its statement of defence, the city denies the allegations and says that the present operator or its previous owners and the MOE are responsible for ensuring the site was in compliance with the province's Environmental Protection Act.

The city's statement says "the discharge of leachate contamination from the landfill site ... rests with the co-defendant, CWSI or the Ministry of Environment."

The matter was put on hold almost two years ago after the two parties agreed to continue testing the ground flow, but remains in front of the court.

"Experts have been hired by both sides," said Daniel Leduc, the lawyer representing WM. "When the experts are satisfied they have all the data, that may resolve the issue."

Leduc also suggested the land identified in the company's statement of claim is valued at $1 million.

LEGALESE

With a $30-million fight on its hands, the city of Ottawa, Ministry of Environment and Waste Management are battling it out in court to determine who is responsible for the alleged contamination of about 100 acres of land near the Carp Rd. landfill facility in the west end.

A lawsuit was launched in November 2002. Below are further excerpts from court documents:

"The city of Ottawa states that it did at all material times, to the extent of its own jurisdiction, and ability to do so, require that the operations of the Canadian Waste Services Inc. or its predecessors, be carried out so as to comply with all MOE requirements, including ensuring that leachate contamination to neighbouring property owners did not occur as a result of the landfill operations."

"The city of Ottawa is liable at law for the negligence of its predecessors, the Township of West Carleton and the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton."

"The plaintiff states that the continued operation of the landfill operation on the lands owned by CWSI (now WM) continues to contaminate its lands and is in breach of the Environmental Protection Act."

The city "has no knowledge of the alleged damages suffered by the plaintiff and puts the plaintiff to the strict proof thereof, in the alternative this defendant pleads that the damages claimed by the plaintiff are excessive, exaggerated and remote."

derek.puddicombe@ott.sunpub.com


Previous Stories:

Mar. 15 - 2006    City inked landfill agreement in '01 -The Ottawa Sun

Mar. 07 - 2006   Incineration debate stuck in past era, air quality expert says

Mar. 04  - 2006   Letters to Editor: "Incineration experts" and "Councillors' failure"

Feb  25 - 2006   RCOC believes 'sound planning' means waste treatment at source:

 

 

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