TRURO - An application by a Debert company seeking permission to dispose radioactive waste through the municipal sewage system has prompted Colchester County council to review existing bylaws dealing with unwanted materials.
Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) is currently storing about 4.5 million litres of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) processes that have occurred outside Colchester County and it has applied for a permit to treat and discharge the material into the public sewer system.
A total of about 15.5 million litres of material is stored at the site and permit applications are expected to follow for the remaining 11 million litres if the request for the first 4.5 million-litre disposal is approved.
The material was approved for storage by the Department of the Environment (DoE) without prior notice to the municipality.
The wastewater has been identified to contain naturally occurring radioactive materials, some of which are above Health Canada's "unconditional derived release limit."
A number of councillors expressed concern about releasing the waste into the public sewer system as well as displeasure that the DoE would permit the material to be stored within county limits without informing the municipality.
"This is not sewage," Coun. Mike Cooper said during discussion last week. "Why are we going through all this? Why don't we just tell them to take this stuff somewhere else?"
Ramesh Ummat, the county's director of public works, is responsible for determining whether a permit will be granted to AIS, but he was instructed by council that if approval is provided, no discharging would be allowed until an appropriate appeal period can be exercised.
Council also directed staff to take a look at the municipality's bylaws with the aim of revising them to permit a ban of any future unwanted materials.
"We need to know what's going on in Debert," said area councillor Bob White, who asked whether the company had conducted any air testing regarding the material.
"It shouldn't be here and I'd like to see it out of here," he said, of the wastewater.
White said he has received numerous complaints about odours believed to be associated with the material, which is stored in open-air tanks.
Two area residents, Roger Hunka, of the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council and Don Wilson both made presentations to council related to concerns about potentially radioactive materials that could be released into the public sewer system - and ultimately the Bay of Fundy - if the requested disposal is permitted.
"I don't think this material has any business in any wastewater treatment plant that this county owns," Coun. Bill Masters said.