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Environmental assessment ordered for Melancthon quarry

September 9, 2011 Province cites ground and surface water concerns in order by SUSAN MANN The company planning to extract from a massive quarry in Melancthon Township, just north of Shelburne, was surprised by last weeks Ontario Ministry of the Environment announcement that its proposal must now undergo an environmental assessment. But Highland Companies reconfirmed its commitment to dig the 2,300-acre quarry in Dufferin County. In a press released issued Wednesday, the company says it is confident a transparent and independent assessment of the proposed Melancthon quarry will show Highland has taken a responsible and balanced approach to aggregate extraction that provides a long-term supply for the province while also protecting the community and environment. North Dufferin County Agricultural and Community Taskforce, a citizens group opposed to the quarry proposal, is pleased the companys plan is subject to an environmental assessment and thanked both the environment minister and Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey for their decision. In a Sept. 1 statement, Environment Minister John Wilkinson says officials from his ministry thoroughly examined the Highland Companies technical reports filed to get a quarry license through the Natural Resources Ministry. Based on a review of those reports and because of the unique nature of the Melancthon quarry

proposal I believe a full environmental assessment is necessary, he says. The minister notes the decision ensures that a transparent and independent assessment of the environmental impacts of the proposed Melancthon quarry will be conducted. Organic beef farmer Carl Cosack, vice chair of the North Dufferin taskforce, says the environmental assessment is a necessary step. Cosack says its not up to him to suggest the terms of reference for the assessment but hed like to see a thorough review of the private control of such immense amount of waters included. Cosack says the company plans to manage 600 million litres of water daily and store it for three days to allow contaminants to settle out before the water is returned to the waterways. Cosack says that amount of water shouldnt be in private control. Management to me equals control. He also questions why so much farmland should be put at risk. Its not just the 2,300-acre proposed quarry site that will be affected, but all surrounding farms would lose their water table. It is such a bizarre project. Air quality is another matter that should be included in the terms of reference, he notes. The proposed site is next door to the Niagara Escarpment. Westerly winds out of Melancthon dont need to be proven because Melancthon is already home to the largest wind farm in the province. Environment ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan says when they reviewed Highlands reports as part of the companys application to the Natural Resources Ministry for a quarry license we noted

concerns mainly for ground and surface water. She says during the review it just became clear that more work needed to be done so more study was needed to make sure the project would be fully protective of the surrounding environment. The proposal is for a very large quarry, she notes. Its unique and significantly more complex than the typical quarry applications that come in. Since Highland planned to pump water for the life of the project, we believe there may be an impact to groundwater so we required them to do further study through the preparation of a comprehensive environmental assessment, she says. The first step in the environmental assessment is for the company to prepare a draft outlining the terms of reference. Jordan says environmental assessments are proponent driven. That means its the proponent that does the studies, some consultations, and all required work. The specific studies and other necessary reports the company must provide are set out in the Environmental Assessment Act. All material is submitted to the environment ministry for review and public consultation. In the case of the terms of reference, once the environment ministry receives those it puts them out for public review and comment. We take all those comments into consideration as part of our review before we make any final decisions, she says, noting they need to approve the terms of reference before Highland can proceed to the next step. As for Highlands application to the Ministry of Natural Resources for a quarry license under the Aggregate Resources Act, Jordan says the company can do the work for that application at the same

time it completes the environmental assessment. But the company needs to get environmental assessment approval before getting its quarry license. BF