Quinte chapter concerned by environmental implications of Picton Terminals

Picton Terminals photo.

The Council of Canadians Quinte chapter will support their ally Save Picton Bay at a Prince Edward County Council meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Save Picton Bay is concerned about the pollution resulting from Picton Terminals, a deep marine dockage on Picton Bay (a branch of the Bay of Quinte on the north shore of Lake Superior) that loads and unloads road salt, aggregates, farming products, steel, biomass and wine barrels.

County Live reports, "[In November 2016, the company] was issued more than a dozen work orders by the [Ontario] Ministry of Environment and Climate Change related to contamination of water, air and land. The orders followed complaints by neighbours and other members of the new group and seek compliance related to storage piles of salt and stormwater runoff, dust and spills from petroleum coke, (‘petcoke’) plans and measures to prevent discharge and removal of contaminants."

That article adds, "Picton Terminals is in the process of re-zoning from quarry to shipyard. ...Following decades of non-use [the new owners of the terminal are] working to expand to load and unload 100 ships per year."

In December 2016, the owners of Picton Terminals informed County Council that they would be withdrawing their zoning application. Their letter highlighted, "We have received numerous legal opinions and professional planning opinions and between the current zoning and the pre 2006 zoning, we can operate our business as legal non-conforming forever."

But the lawyer for Save Picton Bay says, "The company continues to use residential land and/or land previously zoned for transhipment of ore and now aggregate extraction. ...None of the uses they are permitted seem to have anything to do with importing or storing large quantities of road-salt and petroleum waste-type products.”

The Bay of Quinte is considered an area of concern (a federal government designation due to severely degraded water quality and environmental health) and there are additional concerns about the impact of a former dump leaching into the bay, runoff from a sewage treatment plant, high levels of salt and chemicals in the water, and the locations of drinking water intake pipes.

It is hoped that County Council will vote on January 24 to withdraw their support for Picton Terminals until the environmental and legal issues are resolved.

Beyond the municipal jurisdiction on land use issues, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for fish, pits and quarries, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for fish habitat, while Picton Terminals has reportedly already been issued a permit from Transport Canada.

For more on this issue, please see the Save Picton Bay Facebook page here.

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