Salt in the wound
Picton Terminals has large section of salt uncovered and open to the elements
Picton Terminals is stockpiling a massive mound of salt and Picton Bay neighbours worry that it is not being cared for properly. Recently, a portion of the tarp that was covering the pile had blown off, leaving a significant section of salt open to the elements. This is not the first time that Picton Terminals has had issues with covering its salt pile. Last year the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change had to be called in to make sure that the company was in compliance when a section of tarp came loose and did not get replaced for a few weeks.
“The terminal seems to be compliant with all the ministry’s demands, but only on the day of inspection,” says Bob Bird of Save Picton Bay (SPB). Bird’s property is directly across the bay from Picton Terminals, which affords him a clear view of the company’s day to day operations.
“The terminal can tell the ministry one thing, but we can see first hand what’s really going on,” said David Sutherland, treasurer of SPB.
The effects of leaving this salt pile uncovered are evident in the white, chalky residue that coats the cliffs facing the water. Most of the rock around here is limestone, which is porous. When it rains, the salt water runs off the pile, through the cracks in the limestone and into the water table. Picton Terminals has been proactive in testing local wells and the water around the terminal, but its results are only now getting to the public.
“We do see that there is salt in the water and in the wells around here. There in no doubt where it is coming from,” said Bird.
The salt pile also raises red flags to SPB for another reason: How does all that salt leave the property? The neighbourhood watchdog group estimates that it will take over 3,000 truckloads to get that salt pile removed from the site and distributed.
Ben Doornekamp of Picton Terminals disagrees with their numbers, saying that the south pile of salt is 56,000 metric tonnes, which equals out to 1,400 truckloads.
“Picton Terminal’s annual salt loss is less than 0.7 per cent of all salt shipped to the terminal,” said Doornekamp.
This year around 120,000 metric tonnes of salt came through Picton Terminals, which adds up to a loss of 840 metric tonnes.
Save Picton Bay says even using Doornekamp’s estimates, it’s a lot of salt eventually making its way into Picton Bay.
Doornekamp adds that Picton Bay terminal has an application in to build a dry storage area for salt, with a goal to reducing their salt loss to zero per cent. If the application is approved, it will be the only fully dry salt storage on the Great Lakes and selffunded by the owners of Picton Terminals.
But it is also not just salt that the terminal has issues containing. Last year there were instances where coverings to a substance called petcoke (pure carbon powder) had been blown off in a storm and the black powder blew around and covered a neighbour’s property. Picton Terminal paid for the resulting cleanup.
Save Picton Bay is concerned about the drinking water and the bay as a whole. They are also concerned with the presence and enforcement of environmental regulations by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) .
The Times reached out to the MOECC with a list of questions, but as of press time, have not received a response.