Water Quality Issues with the Scotian Materials Fall River Quarry

Water Quality. Should you be concerned? Yes. Reason # 1. The explosives should NOT be released into the environment, according to the makers of the explosives.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 2.46.12 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.15.03 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.15.12 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.15.21 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.15.29 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.21.19 AMHere are portions of the MSDS sheet for the explosive to be used, Dyno Nobel’s TITAN® XL1000. They specifically state it should not be released into the environment, nor should the ingredients. From our research and knowledge of the application, the only filtration Scotian Materials proposes for the wastewater is to pour it on a pile of rocks and then pump it onto a vegetated area for release into the environment. There are wetlands and streams within 30m, and Soldier Lake is protected by one wetland in between, 1ha in size. According to all of the scientific research we have read and consulted, this is not sufficient protection. These chemicals are hazardous to fish and wildlife as well as humans.

Yes, we have presented this and much more to Nova Scotia Environment. We have heard nothing back. This doesn’t stop YOU from contacting them and telling them they cannot ignore the MSDS instructions from the blasting contractor themselves.


Water Quality. Should you be concerned? Yes. Reason # 2.


Scotian Materials, Nova Scotia Environment, here is the second beautiful lake that will be destroyed by the proposed quarry if you don’t do the right thing and ensure the rock being quarried won’t lower the pH even further than it is already (please see more information on rock testing under #11 of the Problems with the 2016 application for the Fall River Quarry). Volumes of research show that acid rock drainage from sulphide-bearing rock caused fish kills in Soldier Lake, Miller Lake and adjoining lakes when the airport runway construction in the 60’s uncovered this rock, known as the Halifax Formation. It costs millions of dollars to this day to treat the acid that still drains from it. They’ve created artificial wetlands (oh more irony), and treat it with lime so that the pH does not lower dangerously. The proposed site is on the edge of the Halifax Formation, in the Goldenville Formation, which is also sulphide bearing but to a lesser extent. 

Our water testing of the nearby brook, just south of the site, indicates acidic pH of that brook, which begins just past the Scotian Materials property. The pH is currently 4.5. Trout will not survive below 4.1.

The property is located in or near an area called the “transition zone” between the Halifax and Goldenville formations. In this zone, there is typically high metal content and it’s uncertain how much sulphide bearing rock will be found. Therefore, under Nova Scotia Environment regulations there are tests which need to be done if it’s possible that sulphide-bearing rock exists. The Scotian Materials application fully admits there is a possibility that this “pyritic slate” could be found on site. Their solution? Toss it aside if found, as it’s no good for gravel. Two core samples to the depth of the quarry per hectare are to be tested for acid generation potential. That’s 8 tests. To date, we have record of one core sample of unknown depth from outside of the footprint being tested. The application in several places refers to “samples” (plural) but one was included in any FOIPOP material or court documents. This makes us suspicious that perhaps more tests have been done but not submitted. There is no explanation as to why this would suffice.

We don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a company abide by the regulations of this province it wants to “do business in” and for the regulatory authority mandated to protect the environment to enforce those regulations. “Do your job.”

And yes, we’ve told this to Nova Scotia Environment, and heard nothing back. No response. So feel free to write them yourself!


Water Quality. Should you be concerned? Yes. Reason #3.

Blasting rock produces dust. Crushing rock produces dust. Driving rock on dirt roads produces dust. Transporting crushed rock on conveyor belts and loading it into trucks produces… dust. No kidding, right? With the help of the amazing Forest Watershed Research Center at UNB, we have written to Nova Scotia Environment and shown them why they should be concernedabout the suspended sediment levels in nearby streams. Have a look at the attached pictures provided by the Watershed Center. They show the very close proximity of water all around the site. The colourful picture shows watersheds that drain toward Soldier Lake. All of the streams drain towards one wetland before the water enters the lake. When we have a lot of snow melting or heavy rains, wetlands can overtop and carry excess sediment toward the lake. All of these waterways carry fish, including trout, and Soldier lake has been recorded to be a habitat for an at-risk species, the American Eel. 

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Fine silt and sediment suspended in water isn’t good for fish. It sticks in their gills, smothers their eggs, covers their spawning areas, and hides food from them visibly.

For that reason Nova Scotia Environment places limits on suspended sediment via the Pit and Quarry guidelines. The Watershed Center helped us show that particularly considering the fluctuation in precipitation and temperature in Halifax, and the recent land clearing activities which has allowed soil to erode, it is expected that Scotian Materials will not be able to abide by the Pit and Quarry guidelines for suspended sediment as their application now stands.

Have we heard from Nova Scotia Environment on this? You guessed it, No. You know what I’m going to say next… Feel free to contact them and tell them how you feel about this!

P.S. Nova Scotia Environment: “Fix it!”


Water Quality. Should you be concerned? Yes. Reason #4.


Although Scotian Materials in the 2016 quarry application states that the water of the nearest residents meets the guidelines for drinking water, as some sort of argument that arsenic is not an issue, again they have not presented fulsome information. This is a quote from the application: “It is assumed that the water quality of the domestic wells at Miller Lake West is generally of acceptable quality and meets the NSE potable water standards as well as the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (HC, 2014) with potential treatment requirements for hardness, iron, manganese and arsenic” (p. 11).

Our questions to NSE were the following: Why has Scotian Materials assumed anything? Why haven’t they presented water test results? Deeper groundwater obtained from wells is known to contain less arsenic than more shallow groundwater. Scotian Materials has stated repeatedly there are no plans to quarry below the water table. Why then, do they refer to arsenic levels below the water table when they could take water samples from their own property? We encouraged Nova Scotia Environment to use the powers designated under the Environment Act (1B) to obtain its own water sample from the site. In addition, the very article cited by the proponent above states that the first arsenic contamination of well water in the nearby neighbourhood of Waverley was discovered in 1976 after the diagnosis of chronic arsenic intoxication. A later study (conducted in 1977) found 12% of the homes in the neighbourhood of Wellington, which is the area surrounding the proposed quarry site, had arsenic levels that exceeded the guidelines for drinking water at the time. (The guidelines have only become more conservative and less specific since then.) Arsenic-contamination of wells in Fall River was also noted by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in their planning documents and is cited for the reason that many neighbourhoods in Waverley have already been switched from wells to municipal water. Health Canada has continued to study the levels of arsenic in the wells of Fall River residents. Scotian Materials’ argument is not only illogical, it’s based on incorrect premises; surrounding neighbourhoods do not have pristine well water and well water results should have better water quality than water potentially interacting with minerals in exposed areas of rock.

The same report Scotian Materials cites, a Nova Scotia government document, when they discuss the water being of acceptable standards, actually noted that the Goldenville formation (the rock that Scotian Materials proposes to blast) is “considered as the host rock for arsenic” (https://novascotia.ca/…/GroundwaterResourceReport_Hants2.pdf). Elements such as lead and arsenopyrite (an iron arsenic sulphide with 46% arsenic and acid rock drainage potential) can be contained in these rocks, and thus additional tests are warranted given the proximity to watercourses and wetlands. The watershed research conducted in 1979 shows that in the Collins Park watershed (this watershed contains the lakes adjacent to Miller Lake), 63% of the wells were contaminated with arsenic in 1976. The threshold has changed since that time, so this is likely underestimated. Miller Lake serves 50 customers with drinking water and currently removes arsenic from the water. This certainly paints a different picture than the dismissive-sounding quote from above. (And no, we didn’t take this out of context.)

Inorganic arsenic (the type found in rock formations) is a carcinogen, a poison. Arsenic is regulated at the federal level. It is included in Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, List of Toxic Substances. When allowed to escape into waters that hold fish, it is prosecuted under the Fisheries Act (s. 36(3)). How can arsenic released from the quarried Goldenville Formation rock affect us in Fall River and Halifax?

1. Blasting at the proposed site can introduce arsenic (along with silt, metals, and acid) from the rock above into the deep aquifer through existing fractures or by constructing new fractures and thereby enter the well water of the nearest residences;

2. Over time and if in high enough quantity, arsenic will begin to not only affect the nearby streams and brooks but the lakes as well. Arsenic bioaccumulates in fish, which means if we catch fish and eat them we could be exposed to higher levels of arsenic. People fish regularly in Holland Brook which is about 400m away, and Soldier Lake, which directly receives water from the area of the proposed site, is a very popular fishing spot.

3. Arsenic isn’t a good idea for plant life or animals. Again, the Scotian Materials property is surrounded by Crown land, the Waverley Game Sanctuary, and the Waverley Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area. Legislation is supposed to protect wildlife in these areas from being poisoned.

4. At the present time, people regularly walk their dogs, hike, bike and fish on the dirt road below the proposed site. The dusty clouds produced by blasting will not be a good idea to breathe in, with or without arsenic, but arsenic certainly elevates the risk of breathing in this material. So much for enjoying Crown land.

By far, the biggest irony is that wetlands help remove contaminants from water, but the wetlands closest to the site have had all vegetation removed, which will restrict their functionality.


Why do we want to Stop the Goffs Quarry (Fall River Quarry)? It’s not a simple answer, as you can see. There are many answers, and neither Scotian Materials in their raging against us, nor Nova Scotia Environment in their staunch rejection of our complaints and reluctance to speak with us, has assuaged our concerns. They are many. They are real. And they have been presented backed up by Nova Scotia government documents and legislation.


Member of the Nova Scotia Road Builder’s Association Robert MacPherson. Scotian Materials Limited. Rob MacPherson. Contact. Address: 100 Venture Run, Suite 103. Dartmouth. #scotianmaterials scotianmaterials.com scotianmaterials.info scotianmaterials.ca Halifax quarry quarries aggregate gravel #noFRquarry  Scotian Materials Ltd.