The Ottawa Citizen

OMYA wants to dig up road for raw mineral
Firm under fire for water-taking plans now wants to expand Lanark quarry

Dave Rogers
Tuesday, October 05, 2004

First OMYA wanted millions of litres of water from the Tay River near Perth to mix with its calcium carbonate. Now it plans to get the mineral from under Lanark County Road 9.

The company that provoked a storm of protests with its water-taking plans has been mining calcium carbonate at its quarry at Tatlock, north of Perth, for years. OMYA wants to expand its quarry to include a one-kilometre section of County Road 9.

Lanark County council and OMYA have made a joint application to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that would allow the company to mine the road to its quarry. The company plans to build a new road four kilometres north of the existing one.

But Lanark Highlands Township Mayor Larry McDermott yesterday criticized county council for giving the old road to OMYA without determining the value of the calcium carbonate that will be extracted.

"Our citizens and the public have the right to raise questions about the licence application to ensure that it meets their environmental needs," said Mr. McDermott, who voted against giving the road to the company.

Mr. McDermott said the county would be giving away mineral resources if the value of the calcium carbonate is more than the cost of building a new road.

The mayor said OMYA should help build a truck bypass around the village of Lanark, which is 16 kilometres north of Perth, in exchange for the calcium carbonate under County Road 9.

Lanark residents say OMYA's plan to quadruple production at the quarry to four million tonnes a year will mean one 40-tonne ore truck on the village's main street every three minutes, 365 days a year. They say the heavy trucks will create a major traffic safety problem and cause so much noise and vibration that their sleep will be disturbed.

"At the very least if there was a doubling of truck volume from one million tonnes to two million tonnes, it would produce noise levels that would be unacceptable," Mr. McDermott said. "That would trigger the development of an alternate route around the village."

There is no agreement on who would pay for a bypass around the village and a new bridge across the Clyde River. The township has a population of about 5,000 permanent residents and 5,500 cottagers.

Under OMYA's existing water-extraction permit, the company can take up to 1.5 million litres of water a day from the Tay River to mix with calcium carbonate from its quarry. The slurry is used to manufacture products such as paper, paint, wallboard, toothpaste, calcium supplements and antacid tablets.

OMYA applied to the Ontario government to increase the amount of water it draws from the Tay to 4.5 million litres a day, starting in January 2004, but the province imposed a one-year moratorium on new water-taking permits to protect drinking water sources.

Art Chamberlain, spokesman for Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, said the province will develop stricter water-taking regulations before the end of the year, but he could not provide any details.

OMYA spokeswoman Rita Mezzanotte said the company doesn't know yet whether it will get a permit to increase the amount of water it takes from the Tay River in January 2005, when the provincial moratorium expires.

Meanwhile, OMYA has announced it has dropped plans to develop a quarry on a scenic hillside in Danby, Vermont. An elated Annette Smith, director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, a group that opposes the company's quarry operations, said the decision is probably the result of public opposition to the quarry's potential effect on groundwater and anticipated truck traffic.