What may well be toxic chemical waste in Sheldon Creek is being ignored claims a Burlington resident.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 16, 2015


Keeping the natives happy seems to be easier said than done.

Aldershot resident Tom Muir is still spinning his wheels over the answers he isn’t getting on the development application made by the ADI Group for a 26 storey building at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

Now Vince Fiorito is wondering why his discovery of what he thinks is toxic material discovered in Sheldon Creek is not being looked into.

Sheldon Creek - vince in high water

Vince Fiorito on a tour of the Sheldon Creek when the waters were high.

Fiorito wrote MPP’s Eleanor McMahon (Burlington) and Indira Naidoo-Harris, (Halton) and Mayor Rick Goldring.

Fiorito had strong environmental credentials – he was named the Steward for Sheldon Creek by the Halton Conservation Authority. In his most recent email to the above named he said:

“This is a status update, regarding a dump site that I discovered in the Sheldon Creek flood plain adjacent to a residential neighborhood near 1829 Creek Way, Burlington, Ontario”

Fiorito had taken his concern to the provincial Ministry of the Environment. When he followed up with them he was told “the MOE considers this case to be closed even though as far as I know nothing has been done about this site and nothing is planned to be done.”

Fiorito, who documents rather well, provided pictures of the material he discovered and said he “estimates the site covers 1000+ square meters. The depth of material buried at this site is unknown. What is buried at this site is unknown. This site is also full of sharp metal objects and broken glass.

Bags of something Sheldon Creek

A Burlington resident doesn’t know what these chemicals are – no one seems to be concerned.

This site is next to a residential neighborhood full of children and apparently near the residence of McMahon the Burlington MPP.

Fiorito discovered this site in the Sheldon Creek flood plain next to a residential neighborhood about a year ago. At the time, he considered this site to be yet another dump site, like many others that Friends of Sheldon Creek has discovered and cleaned up.

He organized a volunteer clean-up of this site on June 27, 2015; David Hulsman from the Field and Stream Rescue Team showed up to help. The two of us started cleaning up the site and dragging trash to the curb.

rusted barells sheldon creek

Rusted out drums and some equipment were found in Sheldon Creek – Burlington resident Vince Fiorito wants to know how it got there and what is being done to remove it. so far he claims nothing is being done.

They halted their activities out of concern for their personal safety, when Hulsman found two pesticide containers indicating that the site could be a toxic waste dump.

Fiorito immediately contacted the MOE spill hot line to report this site. The MOE opened a file (case # 2784-9XVMEM) and contacted the city for follow up. City staff couldn’t find the site and they contacted Fiorito.

barel in Sheldon creek

Vince Fiorito, the Steward for Sheldon Creek discovered what he fears are toxic chemicals in the Sheldon Creek flood plain and cannot understand why neither the province, the local MPP or the Mayor have not moved on this – they were alerted five months ago.

On Monday June 29th, 2015, Fiorito guided Gary Glenn of the City of Burlington to the site. He agreed that this site appeared to be a problem. The two agreed that the site appeared to be decades old and that it looked like someone dug a big hole, dumped suspicious looking barrels, drums and containers into it, and then buried it. We were unable to determine the scale of the problem, because when we lifted up a barrel or sheet of metal, we could only see more barrels and metal underneath, indicating that this could be a deep hole.

“I expected the government would follow this problem up until it was resolved and keep me informed. But after four months of silence and no sign of activity at this site, I decided to follow this case up.

“I went to the MOE website for information about case # 2784-9XVMEM. As far as I can tell, the MOE has no way for the public to search for information on a reported spill by case number.

“I tried to file a request for information but got an error message.  Finally I called the spill hot line, where I was able to get help. The operator told me that according to the file:

• I reported the site with contact information
• The MOE contacted the city
• The city couldn’t find the site and was going to contact me.
• The file had been closed by Karen Wassink, Senior Environmental Officer – HALTON-PEEL DISTRICT (I looked up her contact information: Phone: 905-319-3149 Email: karen.wassink@ontario.ca)

“I contacted Gary Glenn of the City of Burlington ( Gary.Glenn@burlington.ca ) for a status update. In his email reply he informed that the City of Burlington does not own that property and that it is owned by Paletta International. I have been directed to contact that Company for follow up.

Fiorito said he is “dissatisfied with the process and lack of results. I reported this problem nearly five months and absolutely nothing has been done.
“At a minimum, this site should be tested immediately to see if it is leaking dangerous chemicals. I’d like to know the results of that test as soon as they are available. If it is leaking dangerous chemicals then the public needs to be informed immediately.”

Fish from Sheldon creek

A fish caught in the Sheldon Creek is believed to have been dinner for a local family.

“Downstream, Sheldon Creek flows through a nature area, parkland and eventually into Lake Ontario, where it becomes our drinking water. This young person in my neighborhood caught a rainbow trout in Sheldon Creek. I believe he took the fish home and ate it with his family.

Fiorito who certainly knows how to jump on a high horse when he sees one said: “I feel that more than one person has behaved irresponsibly and possibly illegally. I feel that government officials have not done their duty. Their inaction after knowledge of the facts could be endangering public safety.

Fiorito continues: “If city staff have determined that Paletta International is responsible for this site, then I feel they are still responsible for following the problem up as well as keeping the MOE and myself informed. Just because I found and reported this problem, should not mean that I am responsible for ensuring its resolution. I will try to clean it up if I can, but first I need to know if the site is safe or contains toxic chemicals. We will happily remove trash, including sharp objects (Field and Stream Rescue Team has insurance, so our activities do not create any liabilities), but we are not qualified to clean up toxic chemicals.”

Fiorito is a strong believer in accountability and responsibility and points to the people he holds accountable:

Rick Goldring puts the city before himself - he wants what he thinks it is to remain the same and at the same time would like to see good growth.

Mayor Goldring positions himself as a strong environmentalist – but so far he hasn’t delivered in the eyes of Vince Fiorito – who walks his talk.

This site is in our City Mayor Rick Goldring. You should be aware of the action and inaction of city staff. I am concerned, that if this case is typical of how city staff handles environmental problems, then I have to wonder, “How many other problems like this have been reported and ignored, rather than cleaned up?”

He takes the same approach to MPP McMahon: “This site is in your neighborhood Ms McMahon. You should inform your neighbors about this problem. You should tell them that you are aware of the problem and following its progress towards resolution closely.

Bed race McMahon - Rosie the Riveter

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon hasn’t made the grade in the eyes of Vince Fiorito who points out that what he believes could be very toxic chemicals dumped in Shelden Creek close to the home of the MPP has not been given any attention.

Fiorito finds himself feeling “that if I do nothing in this case, then nothing will be done. How is it possible he asks “that after I reported a problem to the responsible government agency and guided city staff to the location, where we both agreed I identified a problem, that this problem can then be ignored?

Fiorito does acknowledge that he did get an acknowledgement from the Office of the Mayor. Tom Muir, the Aldershot resident looking for detailed information on just why the city missed that 180 day deadline’ got the promise of a “meaningful response” – so far he feels all he has gotten is a lot of bafflegab.

Two effective, involved, concerned citizens spinning their wheels. Is there a trend here – is this the way the city does business.?

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