Issue: July 2024
Uniacke Newsletter Logo
Next deadline: August 26

STOP THE QUARRY EXPANSION EMAIL BLITZ

Email Blitz is a GO!

Hello All and welcome new members,

All 300+ of you are requested to participate in this STQE group wide email campaign to Stop The Quarry Expansion. All you have to do is copy and paste the indicated info below and send your email to the individual addressees that have been provided.

This well researched information packet by several members of this group has been encapsulated by one member of STQE and that will be what we are sending to these key addressees.

For those who do not know, the quarry's application for an EA (Environmental Assessment) has been paused by NSECC Minister Tim Halman (as of Oct 7, 2023). At any time now he could decide to inexplicably lift the pause. In the event that could happen and before it does, it was decided a full court press by this group is a now or never thing. Hence this email blitz campaign.

The following is a well researched information packet that hi-lights 8 years worth of non compliance issues and violations by the quarry owners - NCCI. And also notes the many failures by NSECC to carry out what is expected of this Gov't agency. All of this factual information comes from photographic and FOIPOP Gov't evidence.

You will notice the text of the narrative is written in the first person. That is because each of you will be sending in your individual email along with the cut and paste information we have provided. You can also include or remove whatever you feel is important, or that we may have overlooked.

We need everybody's support on this campaign, so cut from the three categories below in the double lines and paste into your email. Please send in your emails straight away. Thank you.

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Addressees:

To: PREMIER@novascotia.ca; Minister.Environment@novascotia.ca

CC: Adrian.Fuller@novascotia.ca; Samantha.Robichaud@novascotia.ca; tanya.farrell@novascoatia.ca; emoussa@easthants.ca; mperry@easthants.ca; mlabradjohns@gmail.com; mlahantseast@gmail.com; melissa.mlaoffice@gmail.com; ca@zachchurchill.com; claudiachendermla@gmail.com; gpns@greenpartyns.ca; heidi.petracek@bellmedia.ca; heidi.petracek@ctv.ca; Paul.Palmeter@cbc.ca; suzanne@halifaxexaminer.ca; Luke.Ettinger@cbc.ca; Joanna@ecologyaction.ca; paula.aceto@ecologyaction.ca

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Subject Line:

Re: OPPOSITION of Mount Uniacke quarry expansion - Industrial Approval (IA) number 2014-091797

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Information/Text:

Premier Houston, Minister Halman and to all others cc'd here. I am writing to you today as part of a collective group from the community of Mount Uniacke, regarding this matter. The oppositon to this expansion is 'NOT' based on the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) mentality.

Rather, it is far more complex than that, as you will see. Based on 'FACTS', an approval for expansion will see the 'continuing' multitude of negative impacts on this community's roadways (in particular damages to the Uniacke Mines Road, as it is today). Just as on the same road, a lesser quality of life is enjoyed for folks and their properties, including safety and air quality issues. And in all areas, increased truck traffic which brings with it, road safety issues. And then there is the potential blast damages to ALL nearby property owners. That has already been experienced by 'some' residents, with no avenues of recourse from the quarry in place. Repairs for damages having to come out of their own pockets. These negatives will continue for decades to come, should this expansion be approved. And with no properly run CLC in place to address any of these community concerns. I will get to that later.

Myself and much of the community are now of the understanding that Minister Halman's decision on Oct. 6/23, to pause the EA process, was as much based on the content of photographic evidence of 'alleged' violations of NCCI's, 2015 Industrial Approval, as the many complaints from residents concerning the catastrophic blasts of October 4/23. This photographic evidence, as I understand it, was turned over to Minister Halman's staff in a meeting with our MLA, Brad Johns, in late September, 2023. As was information on the many deficits of the (2015) Minister ordered Community Liaison Committee (CLC).

I would like to point out here that in what follows, many references are made throughout this letter to FOIPOP documents obtained by our community. All of these references can be verified by NSECC staff in their files for this proponent.

Like many others in my community, I am NOW aware of the 'many' areas of non-compliance that NCCI are 'purportedly' guilty of. Based on the photographic evidence NSECC now has in their possession, they are as follows:

SITE VIOLATIONS....

The BIGGEST VIOLATION of their IA. The quarry 'actively working outside' its 2015 approved boundaries; NSECC has a photograph that shows quarry activity being a certain distance from a NS K class road 'also indicating the active quarry area is clearly not 30m from this road, let alone the property boundary'. That doesn't sound right!

A more recent photograph, taken by the same photographer on November 3/23, indicates this very well. MORE IMPORTANTLY, this photo shows recent changes were made by the proponent, to the surrounding area, areas that were previously, 'NOT IN COMPLIANCE'. This would be indicative of some type of investigation having taken place as a result of the evidence. PROOF that, at the very least, some of the site violations were founded by ECC compliance staff and that the proponent was directed to correct them.

I understand this photograph can be obtained from the same individual who provided the earlier photos.

You are aware of these areas of 'alleged' violations from the photographic evidence. I won't go into specifics as I'm aware that you have all of those. I will only highlight them so that you understand what I am aware of.

- suspect materials being imported from off site and dumped there and buried. Eye witness reports by residents of the Uniacke Mines Rd, (UM Rd) now of 'new' debris being taken into quarry site in late October and then captured in same Nov 3rd photograph, having been recently dumped. It is my understanding that this is not the land use purpose for this site.

It is noted in a FOIPOP obtained communication (dated Jan 2019) between proponent (Andrew Rodgers and an unnamed ECC staffer) that NCCI staff gave permission in 2018 for a local contractor to dump a 'few surplus loads of excavated material' from an off-site location into the quarry space for future reuse.

There is another email from an NSECC staffer, Grant Brown, dated Feb. 2019, in which someone has alerted Mr. Brown to 'illegal' shale dumpings with photographs, involving All Terrain Contracting (an affiliate company of Andrew Rodgers). The materials were coming from a Halifax construction site and being dumped at the quarry site then buried with gravel.

- Is this a common practice 'allowed' by NSECC for the purpose of site reclamation?

- How is it determined by anyone that the surplus materials 'do not contain contaminated materials' that could leech into nearby watercourses?

- This practice would basically be using the quarry area as a dump site - is this a 'permitted' use for this Industrial Approval? My understanding of the IA, is that it's for a quarry pit NOT a landfill site. Could you please clarify?

Other violations noted:

- Effulent running away from the settling pond;

- overburden and infill slopes running to wetlands

- foreign soils were noted to be in the natural environment yet the quarry does not produce top soil or sand;

- evidence of rainwater collecting silt from gravel piles and depositing it directly into the surrounding natural environment;

- an area of wetland the proponent was told by NSECC to stay away from, yet has been backfilled in disregard to that specific order.

Yet, with all of these 'evidence' backed photos provided of 'alleged' violations, coupled with changes picked up in the Nov. 3rd photograph, indicative of NSECC's acknowledgement and conveyance of areas of non-compliance to the proponent; NCCI's daily operations appear not to be affected, in any way. Trucks still come in and out of the quarry, business as usual. Even, 'purportedly' committing yet more violations (as noted above) of their current approval. Why is that, people want to know? and how can ECC compliance staff conduct a proper and full inspection of the site in this manner?

Why must the public have to do the heavy lifting to ensure a proponent is held accountable? Why were your staff, Minister Halman, 'unaware' of any of these 'alleged' (site) violations, until they were brought to your staff's attention, with the photographic (dated and timed) evidence, in a meeting that only came about as a result of our MLA's support in this matter. Why are there NOT annual site inspections conducted by NSECC's compliance officers, with industrial operations such as this?

ON BLASTING.....

Then there is the separate issue of the 'possible blasting violation' in what appeared to many as 'over charging' with the most recent blastings of Oct. 4/23. Three within 30 mins. Yes, I understand they were 'purportedly' within set limits.

Alarming enough they were to cause upwards of 100+ residents, more than at any other time in past blastings by NCCI, to reach out to ECC, our MLA, Brad Johns and municipal councilors for answers. Mr. Johns can verify the emails he personally received following those blasts. As I'm certain, Councilor Michael Perry can. Along with his personal account of something, normally well secured, that fell off of the wall of his home that day. He lives a distance of 3km from the quarry blast site. There are reports of them being felt as far away as Lower Sackville and many other areas in a radius from. These reports were all captured within the same time frame of the NCCI blastings. Although I do not know how many in closest proximity to these blasts may have had damages to their properties, as a result. I do know of one resident who wrote on a community group of damages to their foundation, which caused issues with their gyprocked inside walls (which was believed to have occured only after those Oct. 4th blasts). As I'm certain our area Councilors, MLA and perhaps even your own staff, Minister Halman, have reports of resident complaints.

This was not the first time residents have reached out for answers following blasting from this quarry. FOIPOP docs show a fair number of emails from residents and area Councilors being sent over the years. Some citing the blast being so strong the entire house shook.

This is all contrary to the proponent's claims in 2015, that declared no one over 1km away would EVER see, feel or hear the blasts they would be conducting.

Yes, I understand this is in direct contrast to NSECC, Executive Director, Adrian Fuller, who responded to concerned individuals (following the Oct 4/23 blasts) and explained that NSECC staff visited the quarry site sometime prior to his letter, dated Oct. 27/23, to request NCCI's, third party blast consultant's report. NSECC were satisfied, based on this data, that the blastings were found to be 'within required limits'. (hmmmm!)

I will only add to this that neither staff of NSECC, nor certainly not Mr. Fuller, heard, saw or felt the effects of these blasts as these many others did.

Would it be 'unheard of' for consultant's data reports to 'ever' be inaccurate?

A few questions I have regarding this 'third party blasting consultant':

- what company name is this third party blast consultant?

- Is this the same consultant whose been doing the detonations since 2015?

I ask, because if so, how do they explain the more intense, newly felt and heard shockwaves and concussions with these Oct. 4th blasts, felt by so many more people than previous blastings and at far greater distances? And, if it is a different blasting consultant than earlier days of blastings, again the same good question begs to be answered?

Is it possible that these concerned citizens can 'ALL be so wrong' in what was heard, seen (photographed over Cockscomb Lake by a resident that day), and felt by so many, even at far distances? Photos captured that were more comparable to that of a war zone plume from bombs detonating. I'm certain you've seen these photos by now.

A reasonable question that deserves an answer. Why wasn't NCCI required by NSECC to set up a blast notification program for the community? I understand in other communities, folks are alerted of an upcoming blast using their email address. Date and Time scheduled is provided days in advance. If Mount Uniacke had that, then NSECC wouldn't have to waste their time trying to find out from the proponent IF they did a blast on certain dates. Driven by public complaints. The public could send ECC the proponent's notification. This makes much sense. This falls under 'transparency', does it not?

On Dec. 17/21, Bernard Matlock of the Nova Scotia Gov't wrote to Mr. Heggelin of NSECC, speaking of this pre-blast notification program. One thing is very clear from emails seen through FOIPOP and that is fact that NSECC has received many public inquiries re: blasting impacts over the years that the quarry has been there. This is not something new since the blasts of Oct. 4/23. However, I'd like to point out here that knowing in advance of a blast will not 'somehow' cause people to see, hear or feel it any less!

*note - The recent Oct 4, 2023 blastings have reportedly damaged newly drilled wells of new home construction on the Etter Road (being built by Marchand Homes). If this isn't more proof of blasting wrongdoings, what more is needed?

The 'Violations' of the COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE....a 'condition' of their 2015 IA

A separate, and HUGE violation that is 'NOT''alleged' but based on 'Fact', is long standing, and has been an 'epic failure' to this community, on the proponent's part. That area of violation involves the Community Liaison Committee (CLC), ordered by Minister Younger, in October 2015.

An epic failure, in light of the sham of a way the proponent has been running it The operation of a CLC is guided by its NSECC Operating Guide and its 'Terms of Reference' (TOR).

I understand that in FOIPOP docs obtained, there was a letter sent to Minister Younger (2015) from the proponent, Andrew Rodgers, after the Minister denied the community's appeal of the decision to approve the IA, but gave the community this CLC tool. In this letter, Mr. Rodgers makes it very clear that he vehemently opposes this CLC decision and how they viewed it as an imposition to the running of their quarry activities. So, it is of no surprise then what follows:

- members were made known to the community, once ONLY, the list of 'original' eight names published in the 'monthly' Uniacke Newsletter, in January 19, 2016.

It is my understanding, that of those original eight, one represented the proponent's interests, one represented the Cockscomb Lake area interests; one represented the Uniacke Mines Road area interests; one represented the Municipality East Hants interests; one represented the Sackville Rivers Association interests and the remaining three represented the local business community interests.

My question here regarding this allotment of representatives, is why would ECC feel it acceptable that there seemed to be a need on the proponent's part to appoint more representatives for the needs of local business than the property owners' in much closer proximity to the quarry site and more likely to be the community groups with more cause for concerns, therefore, requiring the majority of representation? Why wouldn't NSECC have recommended this to the proponent when accepting their first members list?

At no time over the preceding eight years, were there annual updates to ensure community members knew who their community reps continued to be. Despite changes discovered by community members, through FOIPOP docs. Why is it that the public has to find things out by searching themselves or by accident? Issues that NSECC staff should've been on top of? Why is that necessary in order for a proponent to be held to account? This is akin to the 'site' violations that were 'only' discovered through the efforts of concerned members of my community.

CLC MEMBERSHIP.....has been a sham

According to the CLC insider, from the original eight CLC members of 2015, there has been, for all but the first CLC meet of May 2016, only two 'active' members, plus the proponent, Andrew Rodgers, present at CLC meets. There were six present at the first CLC meet of, May 3, 2016. Matt Ferguson and Kevin Dutchak were not present, because already they were no longer members - NEVER to attend a meet. Leno Ribahi was present ONLY at that first meeting and no others. I am told this information was conveyed to your staff, Minister Halman, at the NSECC-EA meeting, held September 2023, in which MLA, Brad Johns was present.

There is 'required' to be a 75% quorum at each meeting held. 75% of eight would be 6 members.

Yet, on good authority from the CLC insider, the majority of CLC meets were attended by only 3, that included Andrew Rodgers. Occasionally, the meets were attended by a fourth member. Either way, it was below the required 6 for meetings to be 'legitimately' held.

If this is indeed true, that is 'unacceptable' negligence on someone's part. I wish to know how this can happen for eight years and NSECC not be aware?

NSECC would have this information in the proponent's files, for the initial TOR, 'approved and accepted' by NSECC, December 2, 2015. The public, in this instance, should not have to pay or wait for further FOIPOP documents to know if there's been any recent changes in members that we were not made aware of.

According to the (TOR) there were three requirements to replacing a vacant member's seat and none of them appear to have been addressed by the proponent, for the known vacant seats.

Question: were the vacant seats of Cyril McDonald, Leno Ribahi, Kevin Dutchak and Matt Ferguson ever replaced by the CLC? Because if they were, the community has no knowledge of who replaced them and I'd like to know.

I understand that 'Minutes' of CLC meets are not part of the required NSECC annual reporting. I understand they are 'by request' only from NSECC.

Minister Halman, it is suggested by the people of this community, that the CLC was intended to serve. Now that NSECC have this information, supported by one of the CLC members, and conveyed to your staff in the September 2023 meeting. It would seem that directing your staff to 'now' request all 'Minutes of Meetings' back to 2016 would seem prudent, for comparison of what members are noted as 'present' against this 'new' information.

I would like to know the results of that verification, please?

The proponent may now try to have NSECC believe these deficits existed because of the pandemic! Not so, as already explained above and verified by the CLC insider. It does answer the curiosity over 'why' the proponent would appoint three seats to local business members who didn't appear to have enough interest to attend. In which case, they should've been replaced within the first year of operation. I wish to know IF these 'local' business reps were even located within our community? If not, then why would they even qualify? And why wouldn't NSECC staff have questioned what they had to bring to the CLC interests for this community?

Question: what is the minimum number of members any CLC can be set up with?

The proponent had no issue posting the 'required by NSECC' first list of CLC members, in what they knew to be the ONLY 'appropriate manner' within the community for notifying the public. That would be the 'monthly' community publication, known as the 'Uniacke Newsletter'. Of course we now understand that was only for the purpose of checking 'yet' another required 'NSECC' box. The proponent could've just as easily had any member updates, the meeting 'Minutes' after each (bi-annual) meets and blasting dates/times posted in this 'monthly' publication. If they really wished to be seen as the 'good corporate citizen' in the community that they claimed to be. This would have gone a long way to fostering a good, open and positive relationship with community members.

Instead, there are many emails throughout the FOIPOP records from concerned residents seeking this very information. Information that the proponent was required to 'readily' provide. Why is it that there appears to be no NSECC monitoring on whether or not a proponent is fulfilling these obligations to the community 'it serves'?

Yet, in a FOIPOP communication dated May 30, 2019 between Jillanna Brown, NSECC staffer and Mr. Andrew Rodgers. Mr. R, is being made aware by Ms. Brown that she is turning his case over to, Area Inspector, Scott Morash, citing NCCI's 'repeated areas of non-compliance with the terms & conditions of their IA, concerning the 'timely submissions of both reclamation plans and annual reporting'.

Minister Halman, why is it that anything concerning NSECC requirements is crucial, yet anything concerning the public this CLC was intended to serve, appears not?

COMPLAINTS. The proponent did not want the CLC to be a forum for receiving, hearing, discussing and providing solutions to community concerns. That was made clear in the proponent's appeal to Minister Younger,( October of 2015) questioning the need for the CLC, he was requiring NCCI to establish, and indicating that it would be a hindrance to NCCI's operation.

The CLC Guide states: "a CLC is a forum whereby the residents can bring any issues of public concern relating to the proponent’s activities, to the attention of the facility operators, through their area CLC rep."

It is 'not surprising' to note many times in 'NCCI's annual reporting to NSECC' again through FOIPOP obtained docs, to read that they had no community concerns to relay this reporting period.

Like many, if I had a complaint or concern that involved the quarry's activities, I didn't know where to direct it. I would've been forced to go directly to the proponent. As many did. That resulted in many unpleasant experiences for those individuals over the years. This was the very role that CLC area reps were designed for, had we known who they were and how to contact them.

It would appear by all of the above, that IF the proponents had put as much energy into running a properly appointed CLC, within the protocols and requirements of the Guide and their TOR, it could've been a successful tool to foster a better rapport and build 'positive' community relations.

Minister Halman, in short, what the CLC should have been, for all intents and purposes, to what its 'good' aim was intended by Minister Younger, 'to serve the best interests of the community of Mount Uniacke and be a forum to foster good relations, transparency and communications between community and proponent, and a forum whereby the residents can bring any issues of public concern related to the proponent’s activities'. (End Quote from the CLC Guide) has been and is a failure of epic proportions! As it sits today and every day since its origins in 2015. And I believe it's been 'proven' that this was the goal of the proponent from day one! And that should be relevant information for you to consider in your upcoming decision.

A quote provided by our CLC 'insider', their words: "this is all for one persons profit with a huge carbon footprint. HRM can make their own quarry. He's holding a community hostage and claiming to be just doing business. He has been lying to me for years when I asked if he had expansion plans he said no for years. He started the EA in 2017! His plan is for a full scale industrial operation.

Everyone needs to know he plans to take something away from them. Notably property values, and quality of life."

I ask you all, "In light of the 'facts' laid out above, concerning NCCI's 'alleged' site violations, 'possible' blasting violations and proven 'non-compliance' of the CLC roles and responsibilities, (a condition of their 2015 IA), 'no less important' than their IA conditions regarding blasting, separation distances, surface waters or sound levels. How can that possibly be accepted by anyone as, 'being in compliance'? When it is very obvious to everyone that NCCI, are 'out of compliance' with so many conditions of their 2015 IA.

Given the extent and seriousness of these deficits, why is NCCI 'not required to pause their operations' until a 'FULL' investigation into 'everything' has been concluded and action by Minister Halman decided?

I understand that according to Section 3(g)(i) of NCCI's, IA, "the Minister has the power to 'suspend or cancel' the current IA, pursuant to subsections 58A(1) and 58A(2) of the Act, until such time the Minister is satisfied that all terms and conditions have been met."

As a concerned taxpayer and resident of this community, I wish to know what's going on with the investigation into these many 'alleged' violations and what is intended to be done to correct the proponents' deficits of the Ministerial ordered CLC? Which by Andrew Rodgers' own admission to Minister Younger, was viewed as a complete waste of his time and energies. That, in itself, explains a great deal, does it not?

Meanwhile, the community continues to live with all the adverse impacts - nothing 'ever' changes there.

It is for ALL of the above issues that people have been trying to tell our government since 2015, why an aggregate quarry in the midst of an already established community, doesn't belong and doesn't work! And now we all live with the reality of why that is. And NSECC and other areas of our government must deal with the steady flow of public concerns, it creates.

I have seen the letter of opposition, sent to NSECC from the Municipality of East Hants (September 2023) who voted against this expansion project and cited their many 'good' reasons for. I applaud their action taken. It is unfortunate that our provincial leaders appear not to see it the same way!

It should be clear to our Premier, Minister Halman, NSECC and other persons noted here, based on all of the above, that this particular proponent and their industrial operation is not a good fit for this community. All of the 'alleged, on site' violations (evidence supported) and 'fact based, CLC deficits', proven non-compliance of the fulfillment of this condition, hidden 'in plain sight' of ECC's own files, should validate to NSECC, that this proponent is not the good corporate citizen to this community, that they claimed 'publicly' to be when seeking their 2015 approval. Over the course of the past eight years, NCCI have proven themselves to be anything but. They come and only 'take' from this community, giving nothing back except for the negative impacts and 'bare bones essentials' to satisfy ECC's required check boxes. Added to the disrespect they have shown for the 'fair concerns' of its peoples.

Final points - to put forth for the Minister's consideration. With respect to the, 'at times' controversial blasting impacts, we are wondering if reported data could have been tampered with? The blasting data always 'appears' to find the proponent 'within set limits', despite more and more community impacts .

These other areas of violations, and there's no light way to phrase them, Minister Halman, except to use the word 'deliberate' on the part of the proponent, should provide you with some very clear insight into the outrageous issues and unacceptable conditions this community has faced since 2015 because of this industrial approval. And, that should the outcome for NCCI, not be the favorable one, that I'm certain they're banking on. They will have brought it on themselves with all of the above wrongdoings.

Another 'key factor', Minister Halman and all others reading this, is that I think it's fair to point out, many of the failings of NCCI were only made possible by the failings on the part of our Government's department of Environment. In the great latitude they afford these proponents.

One thing that is on every residents mind in this community is the threat to their drinking water. Unlike urban areas, most people in Mount Uniacke draw their water from a well. This quarry and their practices are putting a lot of people at risk. Be it financially, environmentally or medically.

Another issue beginning to raise its ugly head is the potential of peoples property values could plummet. This quarry has introduced a number of problematic issues for homeowners.

All of these vital points should bear some heavy weight in your decision, Minister Halman, of not only, whether or not to approve this expansion project but how to proceed with NCCI's current Industrial Approval that the proponents have 'proven' to have shown such blatant disregard for.

Minister Halman, NCCI's current IA, is up for renewal in July 2025. From the community’s perspective, there should be no avenue to renew a blatantly, non-complaint quarry such as this one.

Thank you for your time and I will look forward to receiving answers to my 'justified' questions.

From a Concerned and Outraged Citizen and Taxpayer of the Community of Mount Uniacke