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St Marys Cement says "NO" to the MOE
and files an Aggregate Licence Application with the MNR

St Marys Cement has officially shifted our fight to the provincial government level.

On Thursday January 22, 2009, FORCE was made aware that St Marys Cement has refused to redo the groundwater testing as ordered by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Instead, St Marys Cement has filed an application for an Aggregate License from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

On October 30th 2008, the MOE told the company that the results of last summer's Phase 1 pumping test performed on our community aquifer were not acceptable. There was excessive rainfall before, during, and after the testing period. As such, MOE told St Marys Cement that it needed to redo the phase 1 pumping test for two reasons:

  1. to provide reliable data for understanding the aquifer and
  2. to create a baseline before it could proceed to the next step - testing the unproven Groundwater Recirculation System (GRS) that is proposed to mitigate the harmful effects on the ground water from the proposed quarry. (The baseline data is needed for a comparison, to understand if the mitigation system works or not.)

In a letter from St Marys Cement to the MOE, on January 22nd 2009, the company claimed that "St Marys does not believe that any further data will be gained by repeating Phase 1 of the pumping test and therefore will not be repeating the Phase."

This decision taken by St Marys Cement is disappointing and disturbing. Despite our technical experts' scientific opinions and our extreme concerns, St Marys Cement stated that it would prove that the proposed Groundwater Recirculation System (GRS) would work before it would include it in any final aggregate application to the MNR. To quote from the St Marys Cement Fall 2007 Newsletter #6:

"St Marys is committed to successfully demonstrating our GRS method here in Flamborough, before this system is implemented or added as a component to our final application."

Therefore we must assume that the application from St Marys Cement to the MNR is either not final, or that it does not contain a GRS system mitigation system. Either way, the fundamental question still remains - how will the "unacceptable impacts" of the proposed quarry operation, as documented in St Marys Cement's own technical studies, be addressed now that water-related testing of the mitigation system has been halted?

The filing of an application for a Licence under the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) is a step that we have been expecting. However, we are extremely disappointed that St Marys Cement has rejected the MOE's regulatory direction, and that it has not completed vital impact studies requested by the City of Hamilton and surrounding municipalities and conservation authorities. It's a decision that is disrespectful to those levels of government and agencies and the communities that they represent. Furthermore, St Marys Cement still owes transportation haul route reports to local agencies and has not held the final public information centre (PIC) meeting to make its preferred haul route public. The formal timelines required by the ARA makes completion of that ongoing local work impossible. St Marys Cement has essentially "blown off" the MOE, our regional governments, and our communities.

Further the company's actions show complete disregard for the welfare of our communities. Our municipal governments and the MOE have imposed stringent conditions upon St Marys Cement for only one reason - to ensure the safety and protection of our community and our environment. This is not the "good neighbour" behaviour which was promised; it is conduct more like that of a school yard bully. A further indication of the bully mentality is that St Marys Cement has also refused to make copies of the final application to the MNR available to the Community for review. Company representatives have said that they will not release the application until the MNR has reviewed it and indicated that it is complete.

The significant disadvantage that St Marys Cement is imposing upon our Community is that the ARA application process has very strict timelines. Once the application is deemed complete by the MNR, the ministry will post notice of the application on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry for 30 days - our first opportunity to raise our opposition. St Marys Cement will also be authorized to begin a time limited public consultation - at a time of their choosing. The company must notify the Community of their ARA application with signs on the site and notices in the newspaper. However, under the legislation we then have only 45 days to submit our objections. This is a very short time frame to allow community's technical experts to digest and review the material, as well as complete their written reports. St Marys Cement has had almost 5 years to build its case but the Community is allowed only 45 days to respond to documents that presently exist, but that they will not show us.

What should we expect?

There will be a formal public meeting, a requirement of the ARA Licence application process. St Marys Cement will have to advertise the meeting and FORCE will communicate the meeting logistics as well. We must all attend - family members, friends and neighbours. Also, we all need to ensure that we send in our individual objection letter to the Aggregate Licence application. Again, FORCE will prepare material to make it easy for us all to do so.

In many ways, this is the start of the main battle for our Communities. We have done a tremendous job of fighting back, thus far. In fact, St Marys Cement's decision to abandon work with the local governments can be considered a victory for us. We have always known that the ultimate battle would be fought at the Provincial level. Now that the fight has arrived at the doorstep of the MNR, we need to reengage and refocus our efforts to ensure that the same crystal clear logic, backed with sound scientific evidence, will carry the day and lead to the only reasonable outcome: Stop The Quarry!

FORCE will be working hard to get everything coordinated and done on time, on behalf of our community, but we all need to work together to ensure that our voices are heard loudly and clearly, even in the limited time we have to express ourselves.

Keep checking for FORCE emails and visiting the FORCE website. Events could start to unfold quickly over the next little while. For neighbours who are not connected to email and the internet, please print off the key information and make sure that they have it.

We ran Lowndes Holdings Corp out of town. We fought St Marys Cement to a standstill on their local work. Let's finish the job at the provincial level!


Together We Will Succeed!