Honourable Minister Hedderson.
Department of Environment and Conservation
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL
November 9th, 2012
To the Honourable Minister Hedderson,
Hope this finds you well and that your transition to the Environment & Conservation portfolio is going smooth.
As a St. John’s City Councillor and as Chair of the newly re-instated Environmental Advisory Committee for the City of St. John’s, I am writing to voice my clear concern and opposition to the proposal for a wastewater treatment facility that would process petroleum hydrocarbons, total suspended solids, solids, metals typically associated with hydrocarbons, and free oil on Pier 17 right under Battery Road on the City of St. John’s harbourfront.
I have great reservations about a potential wastewater treatment facility releasing this oil by-product "to the City’s storm or sanitary sewer". I have been having discussions with environmental engineers regarding the potential risks/ill-effects resulting from such a close proximity to residents of the Battery as well as to the hundreds of impending residents in the downtown condominium developments and anxiety on this application is growing. I have also been receiving letters of great concern from downtown business owners.
As you are aware, the City of St. John’s has received no application to date and via our Development Committee, has advised against this proposal due to a lack of substantial information on impacts. How much noise with this facility make? My understanding is that this residue/sludge requires vacuum removal and existing facilities are known to cause a great deal of noise. The facility would also be at the mercy of ship scheduling as opposed to a pre-scheduled daytime function. Oil smells are another concern. There are many regulatory issues to address, but the appropriate location is the utmost concern I have on behalf of residents.
The City’s planning department has been actively engaging the residents of St. John’s through our City's municipal plan review process and residents have voiced a strong desire for a more revitalized, livable harbourfront. Though I am completely cognizant of the need for such an oil waste production facility and certainly support good environmental stewardship regarding the safe disposal of oil waste, it does not need be based in the heart of our Battery/ downtown area. This area is one of our City’s biggest assets in regards to provincial and city tourism and would be in direct conflict with the Provincial tourism’s heavily invested, promotional efforts.
Your government challenges us all to take an active role in promoting our environment. Clean air, water and land are priceless natural endowments and protection of these resources and our historic areas such as the Battery bring a wealth of tourism and that as individuals, groups and businesses, and government, it is our responsibility to protect and sustain this environment.
Other options for such a facility must be found and I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time and attention to this serious environment issue.