Environmental Impact Of Landfill Fire Being Monitored

The investigation into a large landfill fire south of Pembroke has so far revealed no adverse effects on the environment. 

Saturday’s fire at the Ottawa Valley waste recovery centre was limited to items that were mostly furniture and mattresses.

Still, General Manager Sue McCrae says they’ve increased their water sample monitoring around the site, and are working with the Ministry of Environment.

She explained that the amount of water that was used on the fire was one of the prime concerns.

Water flow from the area of the fire is captured through the Centre’s landfill leachate treatment facility which pre-treats ground water impacted by landfill operations before it flows off-site. 

"During the fire, we were very careful to make sure that the water coming off the landfill was diverted to ensure it went through the treatment system, and we're monitoring the treatment system now", McCrae told Pure Country 96.7's Tony Grace on Tuesday morning.

"We haven't found any adverse effects at this time, and we're working with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.  We're reporting to them and have been in contact with them several times since the fire, to make sure we're taking all of the steps that are required", McCrae added.

She also says because of the nature of the items that burned, there were no concerns about air quality.

"This is mostly furniture waste, wood waste material.  There weren't issues such as with bagged waste, where we're not as confident about what might the material might be in those bags", McRae said.

"The fire department, when they arrived on site, had breathing apparatus on.  During the course of the fire, the wind was very beneficial, and they actually removed the breathing apparatus when they felt it was safe to do so.  So we're not as concerned about the air quality issues as we are with monitoring the leachate and the impacts, potentially, on the water on the site.

The fire, which is believed to have started on Saturday sometime after 4:00 p.m., could be seen for several kilometres around at its height.

Fire crews from Laurentian Valley and North Algona Wilberforce worked all night to put it out and deal with hot spots, and crews spent most of Sunday watching for any flareups.


McCrae says they’re thankful nobody was injured and the fire is a crucial reminder to everyone to be careful about what they’re throwing out, and to deal with hazardous waste properly.

Batteries, propane tanks and electronics such as laptops and cell phones should never be discarded in garbage.  OVWRC customers are also reminded that there is no smoking while on Centre property. 

As for the fire itself, the investigation into the cause continues, and may never be known.

“Staff are working with witnesses and local fire departments to complete incident investigations", McCrae said.

Laurentian Valley Mayor Steve Bennett, who is Chair of the Ottawa Valley Waste Management Board attended the scene on Saturday. 

“The training our local fire departments receive is evident. It was great to see them working alongside Centre staff. Everyone really pulled together to prevent the fire from moving into other areas at the site.  We are grateful for everyone’s assistance", said Mayor Bennett.