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Plans for controversial shipping port include keeping salt out of Picton Bay

Ben Doornekamp, a guest of the Picton Rotary Club Tuesday, explained plans for Picton Terminals and spoke of the family’s various businesses.

Plans to construct covered buildings to store salt may go a long way toward solving concerns about dangerous levels of chlorides leeching into Picton Bay. The plan for the “coveralls” was explained to Picton Rotarians Tuesday as Picton Terminals’ Ben Doornekamp gave a presentation to the club about the family’s various businesses, and the future of the controversial shipping port.

“The final solution for our salt issue is dry storage. The coveralls will have conveyors inside and that will allow us to unload salt from vessels, store salt dry and load trucks all in dry storage,” said Doornekamp. “Picton Terminals could be the first port on the Great Lakes to keep its salt 100 per cent dry at all times… The ultimate goal is zero chlorides going into Picton Bay” which is the source of drinking water for Picton and Bloomfield.

The plan needs to be presented to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and will also require support from the County for a site plan.

The MOECC is continuing its investigation into noncompliance for a provincial order issued late last fall to cover salt piles stored outside at the site within 15 days of arrival. During a site visit in July, they were not covered. Initial results received by the MOECC indicate impacts to groundwater and a neighbouring property, with potential impact to Picton Bay, as a direct result of the bulk salt storage.

Doornekamp told council earlier this month the 120,000 tons of salt stored there annually are covered with tarp and secured with ropes and gravel, but they can blow off in heavy wind.

The MOECC order, issued in November, listed another 12 items to address including stormwater runoff, dust and spills from petroleum coke; plans to prevent future discharge and removal of contaminants and drainage. Picton Terminals is also to conduct regular samplings of groundwater and surface water.

“There’s water sampling going on every month in domestic wells, shallow and deep wells on our property, tracking all kinds of different things, not just salt,” said Doornekamp. “The MOE has allowed us to put the berms up so there’s no stormwater leaving where it used to, and ultimately, the final solution for our salt issue, is dry storage.”

The issues are foremost in the minds of the citizen group Save Picton Bay which is now fundraising some $15-20,000 for legal and expert witness costs to engage environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie to press the courts to decide once and for all if the company is allowed to continue its operations under a “legal non-conforming agreement”.

Zoning remains the boondoggle. Picton Terminals pulled its zoning application last year saying it wanted to concentrate on the MOEE orders and noted receipt of legal and professional planning opinions indicating that between the current zoning, and the pre-2006 zoning, they can operate as “legal non-conforming”.

The County’s solicitor, for the most part, agrees, but Save the Bay’s legal opinion is Picton Terminal’s use of land and dock is illegal and contrary to the existing zoning.

Gillespie, on behalf of Save Picton Bay, is summoning the municipality to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case, expected to be heard Oct. 27, to seek interpretation of the zoning bylaw and the previous zoing bylaw; and a declaration that the current use of Picton Terminals is not permitted.

Rotarians learned that before the Doornekamp family bought the port in December 2014, it handled iron ore shipping from 1955-1978, sandstone shipping (tests only) in 1981 and Lafarge gypsum, inbound in the early 2000s. Salt began arriving in 1984.

Saving wear and tear on roads and environmental impacts he said, is a big picture solution for those who ship through Picton Terminals.

“All these companies, Essroc here and Lafarge in Bath, for example, have to get their products from the outside because concrete now has become so high tech, the limestone that is just sitting in the ground isn’t good enough,” Doornekamp explained. “In the past, Lafarge would have to bring boxite in to Montreal or Hamilton – 30,000 tons which is about 800 big, big truck loads and truck it all into Bath. Now, they can bring it directly to us and we truck it right over to Lafarge – about a 35-minute trip.

“That’s the big thing with shipping and economy scale for this part of the world. Shipping’s a big picture thing. We can’t look right in front of us. We have to open up and look at the very big picture. For the province of Ontairo as a whole, that load hauling it from Picton to Lafarge versus Montreal to Lafarge took off about 3.2 million heavy truck kilometres with one boatload. Plus the wear on roads and the environmental impact of trucks running and the repetition. That’s why we put things on boats.”

Noise is another ongoing concern – for nearby residents, and the company. Doornekamp explained the company’s plans to build berms and reduce truck traffic on the site. He also explained the port needs to be a 24-hour operation outside of the County’s noise restrictions from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. to maintain schedules with vessels that would otherwise seek other ports to the east, or west.

The company anticipates approximately 30 nights per year when vessels will be at port 24 hours for loading/unloading.

Picton Terminals’ application for the noise exemption was delayed by council last week, awaiting the outcome of the legal decision between the County and Save Picton Bay.

The Doornekamp family also owns Doornekamp Construction, ABNA Investments and Hendrik Aggregates.

He noted controversy seems to follow the companies and touched briefly on difficulties surrounding the redevelopment of the iconic S&R building in Kingston, and the former Gibbord Furniture Company building in Napanee.

Doornekamp Construction was fined $10,000 this July for unlawfully dredging and filling shore lands without a permit in a project in Johnson Bay, Howe Island. A permit had been obtained in 2012 and most of the work was completed during the authorized timeframe. However, the company returned to the site in 2014 after the permit had expired to conduct additional dredging and to add gravel fill to the shore lands.

“We’re a passionate family and that’s the first thing you will notice about the company when you come to the gate,” he told Rotarians.

He said the company has hired every person from the County who applied. Currently there are three employees from the County, one from Deseronto and four from Napanee and the rest from Odessa area. They are currently seeking applicants for drivers and operators and computer techs.
and are starting a work program with Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

He also noted the company’s desire to support other County businesses and organizations by using them for sources for fuel, aggregate, sand, building materials, hospitality, equipment, and partnering for special events and sponsoring sports, golf tournaments and is looking into partnering with local wineries for tour boats.

Picton Terminals is planning a public open house to be held in September to show off the rebuilt 1953 shiploader.

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  1. hockeynan says:

    I agree Homesick.I have lived here all my life too.Wonder what the people who are complaining and owned a business at one time would have thought if a group people had tried to stop them.And I am sure none of them polluted. Another thing is how did this property get resoned when ships have been unloading salt here for years

  2. Homesick says:

    It surprises me how many folks dislike this company. The salt leaching into the Bay is not new!!! I lived across the Bay from these docks from the age of 2, the salt has been sitting there for many years uncovered prior to being ordered to cover it. This family seems to be trying to make the required changes and heading in the right direction. They are hiring local and neighbouring area empoyees helping the depressed work force and economy. Lets give them a chance.

  3. Paul Cole says:

    Going over and above Ministry orders sounds like a responsible environmentally conscious business way to go Picton Terminals thumbs up….

  4. wevil says:

    keep up the good work

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