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Melancthon mega quarry should concern everyone


Have you heard about the proposed mega quarry in Melancthon Township? The massive limestone quarry that is so easy to dislike? If you havent heard about it yet, we, the sleeping bear of normal, everyday, people are doing our darndest to let you know. Why? Because we worry about the future for ourselves and for our children. First a few facts. The application for the mega quarry licence was submitted in March 2011. The proponent is a Canadian numbered company backed by a U.S. hedge fund. The company started assembling land in 2006 by buying into the farming industry. Today they are the largest potato producer in Ontario and the largest taxpayer in Melancthon Township. At 2,316 acres, the proposed quarry would be the largest in Canada and considering the company owns 8,000 acres, would likely become the largest in North America. OK, you say, thats not so bad. Canadians harvest natural resources all the time. Cities need aggregate and this new quarry would be in Dufferin County, 90 minutes from Toronto. Perfect. Lots of supply, minimal trucking and lower carbon footprint. Great. However, what hasnt been said is the site is at the highest elevation in Ontario and the land is the headwaters for four watersheds potential drinking water for one million people in southern Ontario.

The Grand River runs south to Lake Erie, the Saugeen runs west to Lake Huron, the Pine and Nottawasaga rivers run east and north to Georgian Bay. Well, we havent really worried too much about water before so why should we start now? Consider how the quarry plans to operate. The design is based on four extraction areas. Since the quarry licence application specifies unlimited tonnage it is likely that all four would be worked simultaneously a rate that facilitates international shipping. (A quarry spokesman has said it will confine operations to Ontario.) The company plans to extract aggregate to 200 feet below the water table. As each pit is extracted, water will draw down into the hole and collect at the bottom in sump pits. The water will run past heavy equipment and any attendant spills, through dust, explosive residue and bird droppings. The water will then be pumped out of the pits and injected back into the water table via recharge wells at 50-meter intervals along the perimeter of the extraction area. The water will cycle when 79% of the water is expected to run into the pits again. It is the cycling water that will maintain the water table levels beyond the extraction areas. The remaining 21% of water, containing toxins due to previous cycling, will flow through the water table. Does that sound good for drinking water? For fisheries? For lakes? Consider also that the quarry expects to use around 20 metric tonnes of the explosive ammonium nitrate fuel oil per day, which is highly water soluble and doesnt detonate well when wet. As a result 5% (1 tonne per day) is expected to end up in the water and air. Worried yet? If you are an Ontario taxpayer you should be. The fact is Ontario taxpayers are going to pay either way whether for more expensive aggregate or more expensive food and water. Despite what the

proponent would lead you to think, dust and water issues stop aggregate and farming from co-existing. Walkerton showed us the potential cost of contaminating water. Ontarians have to choose fresh food and clean water or rock. So, how do you feel about the mega quarry in Melancthon now? Baylis is a member of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force