Picton Terminals to accept Windsor road salt shipments later this month

UNDER WRAPS- Piles of road salt for winter driving applications are tarped in this November 29, 2017 ariel photo of Picton Terminals. (Picton Terminals photo)

Officials with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) have approved Phase 2 of an Interim Action Plan that will allow the delivery of road salt at Picton Terminals starting this month.

Ministry Spokesperson Lindsay Davidson confirmed to the Picton Gazette that the deep water port operation that’s run afoul of MOECP inspectors in the past due to material handling violations, rogue emissions, etc. will be taking road salt shipments for the upcoming winter driving season.

“On May 24, 2019, the ministry issued a Provincial Officer’s Order to Picton Terminals that outlined how salt would be managed at the site. Picton Terminals requested a review of the Provincial Officer’s Order by the Director,” Davidson told the Gazette in an email.

According to Davidson On June 18, 2019, a Director’s Order was served on Picton Terminals in response to the Request for Review. This Director’s Order allows Picton Terminals to store salt at the site for the 2019/20 winter driving season, pending ministry approval of an interim plan to mitigate potential environmental impacts from salt contaminated runoff.  The ministry accepted Picton Terminals Interim Action Plan (IAP) on August 12, 2019.

“At this time, there are no outstanding compliance items with the Provincial Officer’s Orders issued in 2016 and 2017. The items listed in the Director’s Order are still in effect,” Davidson said.

According to Picton Terminals spokesperson Sandy Berg, the port operation is hoping to resume construction of the t-shaped covered dry storage bin and will have a temporary roof in place in time for salt shipments in fall of 2020. Part of the Phase 2 Interim Action Plan calls for salt infused storm water from the asphalt pay to flow into a new exfiltration zone in the L-shaped bin, lower storage area and dock area.

ACCEPTABLE-  The Whitefish Bay docked at Picton Terminals in November, 2016. The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has accepted an Interim Action Plan submitted by the port operation that will allow road salt delivery here this fall. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

“The IAP directs stormwater to the Exfiltration Zone which is a portion of the limestone floor of our lower storage area and our dock which is limestone gravel behind sheet pile,” Berg explained in an email to the Gazette.  “The final stormwater management plan calls for a new, larger stormwater management pond and several oil/grit separators.  This Interim Action Plan addresses stormwater on site while we are under construction.”

The time lag in accepting the IAP submitted by Picton Terminals to the MOECP has slowed the process of delivery by Windsor Salt of their bulk product to the transfer site in Picton.

“We have been in regular contact with Windsor Salt and hope to have dates confirmed soon.  Last year’s shipments came in September (two vessels ) and October (two vessels ), approximately. two weeks apart.  Our first 2019 delivery will be late September, so we are a few weeks delayed compared to last season,”  Berg stated.

Each of the four shipments is expected to be about 28,000 metric tonnes therefore, in total, about 112 MT will be delivered to Picton Terminals this fall. Windsor Salt supplies salt to their municipal customers in eastern Ontario, approx. from Cobourg to Gananoque north to Algonquin Park.

Berg said those customers have been coming to the Picton Terminals site for over 35 years to pick up road salt for winter applications.

“If those customers weren’t coming to our site, those trucks would likely drive to the Port of Oshawa or Port of Johnstown for their salt orders,” Berg said. “Besides having to drive further to pick up their product,  each port has stockpile challenges in terms of space and on-site logistics of stockpile storage and trucks arriving daily to be filled.  In November, approximately 50 trucks will be loaded daily at Picton Terminals and, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, Berg said there will be 100 trucks daily coming to and from the site in order to build stockpiles across this portion of the province.”

Picton Terminal’s best practices are to have the tarping company (who tarp bulk salt from the Port of Toronto to the Port of Montreal) tarp each stockpile within 15 days of delivery.

“We are mindful of safety and weather conditions at all times,” Berg added.

The dry covered storage initiative, ( part of our overall site redevelopment plan) is designed to eradicate product loss and stop salt infused stormwater from entering Picton Bay AND is about 75 per cent complete provided there are no delays from an Ontario Court of Appeals action launched by the Save Picton Bay group of the June 2018 Court Decision, Berg said the organization anticipates completing the construction of the storage bin (excavating the current L-shaped bin into the final T-shaped bin) and construction of the bin’s roof in time for Sept 2020 shipments from Windsor Salt.

Berg said Picton Terminals have halted the construction of the limestone bin (T-shaped final phase) for two reasons. “Why would we spend all the money on development if a court will take away our ability to operate our business?” Berg asked. “Also for Stockpile surface area – we will not remove any of the asphalt pad that has held salt stockpiles since installed in 1992 as we require the surface area for on-site logistics such as stockpiles storage and loading of trucks.”

Spokesperson for Save Picton Bay David Sutherland said the organization believes covered dry storage for stores of road salt is practical solution to halt stormwater runoff that flows from the site into Picton Bay in the vicinity of the municipal drinking water intake but the group takes issue with that the appeal is the cause of the halting of the stormwater management project.

Sutherland said according to the MECP Provincial Officer’s Report issued May 25, 2019, Picton Terminals stated in a meeting with Ministry officials on April 4, 2019 that no salt would be brought into the facility until the dry storage structure was completed and that they were on track for completion in the fall.

“Three weeks later, Picton Terminals sent an email to MECP advising that they intended to receive a shipment of salt in early June and that the dry storage structure would not be completed this year.  No change in Save Picton Bay’s legal action with respect to the zoning on the property occurred in that three week period.  If fact, our request to extend the time to file its appeal of last year’s judgement was not granted until June, 2019,” Sutherland told the Gazette.

With respect to the most recent IAP recently accepted by the Ministry, Sutherland said it was Save Picton Bay’s belief this was required because the previous version had failed.

“We believe that MOECP only heard about the changes on site after Save Picton Bay sent a drone photo and asked about the apparent differences with the then-accepted plan,” Sutherland added.