The current status
Despite our many meetings with, and letters to, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), on October 20, 2017 they issued an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) to the proponent. This was the last provincial approval the proponent needs for their proposed construction.
However, this last provincial approval was based on incorrect and incomplete information from the proponent, with the result that there are unacceptable risks that the proponent's work will cause irreparable harm to the environment, as summarized below.
We have therefore:
- Submitted a request to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario that the issuing of this approval be Reviewed. Unfortunately this only results in the MOECC being asked to review its own decision, but it does provide greater exposure and high-level attention to the unacceptable situation that issuing this approval has created. A copy of our request is here.
- Also submitted a request for a hearing by the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Pumping PCBs into the Moon River
The Bala #2 Generating Station was south of the Bala north falls from 1924 until it was demolished in 1972:
- While polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have long been known to be toxic, in 1972 they were still legal and widely used in electrical equipment – such as what could have been left buried when the Bala #2 Generating Station was demolished.
- In 2013, the proponent did complete a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), which should have identified the locations and concentrations of any underground contaminants. But the work for this ESA only investigated upstream of the likely source of contamination. Therefore, this ESA was inadequate and should not have been relied on by the MOECC during their assessment of the proponent's ECA application.
In fact, the proponent's own ESA reports that PCBs are an expected concern for abandoned generating stations, yet the work for the ESA made no effort to even locate the exact site of the Bala #2 Generating Station.
The proponent's current pre-construction work could therefore release PCBs into the Moon River and contaminate the surrounding land. To protect those on the Moon River and downstream of it, the proponent's ECA should be revoked. More detail is here.
Pumping insecticides into the Moon River
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change requires that water from excavations be pumped through settling tanks so that sediments (being harmful to fish and their habitat) can settle out before this water is released to a water body such as the Moon River.
Rather than using "real" settling tanks, the proponent is trying to save money by instead buying used overseas shipping containers – six of these are currently at the north end of the Precambrian Shield parking lot.
- The serious environmental problem is that shipping container manufacturers treat the wood floors of their shipping containers with insecticide to prevent live foreign insects from arriving with the shipment. The active ingredient in the insecticides used is Cypermethrin, which is known to be harmful to fish.
The proponent's current work would result in these insecticides being flushed out of the shipping containers and directly into the Moon River.
- Another major problem is that the shipping containers would leak contaminated water into the Precambrian Shield parking lot and onto land owned by the District Municipality of Muskoka.
We have therefore requested that the proponent not be allowed to use these shipping containers, which should be immediately removed from the Precambrian Shield parking lot. More detail is here.
SaveTheBalaFalls.com radio interview
As a result of seeing the destruction of Bala during this year's Cranberry Festival, Toronto radio station AM640 host Kelly Cutrara inrterviewed SaveTheBalaFalls.com on October 16, 2017. You can listen to the interview here.