Walker Environmental Group almost ready to hand over Atlas landfill site to Welland

Walker Environmental Group will be finished with the Atlas landfill site by the end of the month and will turn the property over to the City of Welland before year’s end.

“We have a little more waste coming in this month … November will see the final grading of the site,” Mike Deprez, vice-president of transfer and disposal for Walker Industries, told Welland politicians Tuesday night.

Deprez and Walker project director Darren Fry were before council to make a presentation about the property at the northwest corner of River and Woodlawn roads. However, due to sound system problems in council chambers, an opportunity for followup questions was put off to next Tuesday.

Deprez said the access road to the site — people have dubbed it Mount Welland — will be removed as will the weigh-scale house.

“It will be cleaned up before the end of the year.”

Council was told a perpetual care, or post-closure, fund totalling some $3.2 million will be released to the city for use in operation and maintenance of the site along the Welland River.

The 15-hectare site at 685 River Rd. had been an unsecured and exposed waste dump for former Atlas Steels. There had been no environmental monitoring, no stormwater or surface water controls and no leachate collection system. That meant surface water from the site went directly into the Welland River.

“The city and Niagara Region were left holding the bag for the site,” he said, estimating it was a $20-million liability and a brownfield not suitable for development.

Initial remediation of the site was paid for by Walker at $15 million, which included surface water containment barriers and monitoring, site security, a sheet pile wall driven into the ground beside the river to prevent any migration off-site and a leachate collection system near the wall.

Fry told council the concept to clean up the site and use the remaining capacity as a landfill for Walker was conceived in 2005. It took until 2010 before approval was given to move forward.

“In August 2010, Walker took over the site and remediation took place from 2010 to 2012,” said Fry.

He said the original site, which was part of a wetland, dated back to the 1920s and was used by Atlas to dump foundry sand, slag and other waste. Acid ponds that infiltrated the surrounding environment were found on the site.

Fry said remediation work and controls carried out by Walker were designed to protect the local environment and water resources.

Deprez said only soil from nonhazardous sources has been brought to the site.

He said the site, which operated on a project-by-project basis, generated some $6.6 million for the city over a nearly 10-year period through rent, royalties and tipping fees.