Skip to content

Site 41 is a national issue

A letter to the editor in the Toronto Star this past weekend states, “Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians has made (Site 41) a national issue by speaking at several rallies.”

According to Environment Canada, there are more than 10,000 landfill sites across Canada. Some 80 percent of municipal and industrial solid waste in Canada goes into these landfill sites.

The Government of Canada acknowledges that, “It is becoming more difficult to find suitable locations for new landfill sites, as people are increasingly opposed to the development of them in their neighbourhoods due to odours, increased traffic, and potential problems with ground and surface water contamination.”

The federal government also notes, “A complex combination of landfill liners, monitoring wells, piping, pumps and capping of landfills controls leachate flow. However, these systems are not always successful and if leachate escapes from landfill sites, it can pollute groundwater, rivers, streams and surrounding land areas.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is more explicit when it states, “There is good theoretical and empirical evidence that the hazardous constituents that are placed in land disposal facilities very likely will migrate from the facility into the broader environment. This may occur several years, even many decades, after placement of the waste in the facility, but data and scientific prediction indicate that, in most cases, even with the application of best available land disposal technology, it will occur eventually.”

Landfill sites are the oldest form of waste management. They are an acknowledged threat to groundwater and aquifers.

It has been estimated that one litre of oil discarded in a landfill site could contaminate a million litres of ground water.

Canada doesn’t need more landfill sites, it needs a renewed commitment at the federal, provincial and local levels to further reduce and recycle the waste we produce so that landfills may finally be relegated to the history books.

The Council of Canadians is calling for a national water policy. A key element of that policy is a water conservation strategy, including an imperative to stop the polluting of our surface and groundwater sources.

That imperative should also include consideration of the impact that landfill sites across Canada have on our water sources, notably in areas of federal government jurisdiction such as the fisheries, transboundary waters, water on federal lands, and water on aboriginal lands.

The campaign blogs on Site 41 have now been grouped together on our website at