2016 Scotian Materials Application Issues

(Please also see the other issues under the Information section.)

Our concerns with the 2016 Fall River Quarry/ Goffs Quarry Application as presented by Scotian Materials and their consultants are summarized below. We have analyzed multiple Freedom of Information requests, documents submitted through the courts, along with Nova Scotia Government information, and have consulted with experts, in order to formulate this information. Read it yourself: 2016 Application.

First, the zoning (AE-4) for the land on which the Fall River Quarry (Goffs Quarry, Aerotech Quarry, Miller Lake Quarry) is proposed does not permit quarries. Although Rob McPherson of Scotian Materials continually says the zoning is “Industrial,” it is not. It is Aerotech Industrial or Aerotech Business (see here). There’s a difference. This land was specifically designated for uses other than resource extraction, such as services to the airport and aerospace engineers. (Case in point: the blasting will interfere with aircraft instrument landings and thus must be approved by the Halifax International Airport Authority, NavCan, and must have a Notice to Airmen/ NOTAM issued in advance.) Although Scotian Materials/Northern Construction took Halifax Regional Municipality to court and claims that their win means that the Province has the ultimate authority to determine the location of quarries, this is only partly accurate. Other lawyers (including one for other quarry operators) have come forward and pointed out what the judge and the legislation say: the Province must consider the land use and the Municipality’s intentions. HRM has steadfastly denied that a quarry is appropriate use of this land.

That aside, which has so far gained no traction whatsoever with the Environment department, Nova Scotia Environment has guidelines surrounding quarrying which must be followed prior to an industrial approval being given. The Pit and Quarry Guidelines present minimum distances and levels in order to provide minimal protection for the environment and residents. Some of these, such as the minimum distance to a structure, have been challenged repeatedly in various forums such as the Nova Scotia Legislature. When an Environmental Assessment is undertaken, there have been times when these guidelines have been stated to not provide enough protection and different guidelines were put in place (such as distance to a wetland). Our research has shown that seven out of seven guidelines which place limits on quarries will be exceeded given the current application.

The following issues are significant problems with the 2016 Scotian Materials application for Goffs Quarry / Fall River Quarry. The issues are concerning not just to the residents, but also affect passersby, nearby businesses and the airport, the environment, and all have been brought forth by our group to Nova Scotia Environment backed by scientific research. All have yet to be resolved or even addressed:

  1.  Pit & Quarry Guidelines – written waivers for structures located within 800m (gas pipeline, scales, business)
  2. Well water quality and quantity effects, baseline measurements, contingency plan, and depth of water table
  3. Pit & Quarry Guidelines – sediment levels exceeding allowable amounts released into watercourses as a result of air or water transmission
  4. Pit & Quarry Guidelines – minimum separation distances not adhered to
  5. Pit & Quarry Guidelines – noise levels predicted to be exceeded at property line
  6. Habitat disruption as a result of timing and extent of land clearing
  7. Site preparation prior to approval
  8. Blasting causing vibrations to be exceeded at pipeline and watercourses, contingency plan
  9. Certified wetland delineation
  10. Land survey showing accurate measurements
  11. Sulphide-bearing rock – proper analysis as per the regulations
  12. Size of quarry exceeding 4ha (previous approval specifically states the size includes access roads), existing pits on property instigating an Environmental Assessment
  13. Wildlife disruption in the nearby Game Sanctuary and Wilderness Area, and on Crown Land

These issues are summarized below. This page is a work in progress as we update it with the wealth of information already sent to Nova Scotia Environment.




(2) No person responsible for the operation of a quarry shall blast within:

800 m of the foundation or base of a structure located off site. Structure includes but is not limited to a private home, a cottage, an apartment building, a school, a church, a commercial building , a treatment facility associated with the treatment of municipal sewage, industrial or landfill effluent, an industrial building or structure, a hospital, nursing home etc.*

*Note. The separation distance is measured from the working face and point of blast to the foundation or base of the structure. This distance can be reduced with written consent from all individuals owning structures within 800 m.

The above is a direct quote from the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry Guidelines. To date we are not aware of written waivers for the natural gas pipeline owned by Maritimes and Northeast, nor the highway scales, nor Maritime Fence. All are structures within 800m, according to our experts (see map below). Structures within 800m are required to provide written consent as per the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry guidelines.




Our water quantity issues and water quality issues with the 2016 Scotian Materials application are many and are discussed in separate tabs under the Information tab.

In a nutshell, the only place we could find any estimation of the depth of the water table in the area of the proposed quarry site was in the application to HRM to change the Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-Law by Scotian Materials, which was subsequently denied. There, president Rob MacPherson (who signs his letters with the professional engineer signature) used the average depth of water-bearing fractures of nearby wells, which he says is 33m (page 14). And we thought engineering meant more than taking a simple average! No regard was shown to the elevation of the wells, the distance from the site, nor the actual or modelled depth of the water table at the proposed quarry site. Quarrying below the water table causes most negative effects on nearby wells. Our modelling, which was repeated by the Forest Watershed Research Center with exact coordinates, showed a very distinct possibility that the depth of the proposed quarry at 22m would indeed exceed the depth of the water table.


Prior to any excavation below the watertable a hydrological study will be required and approval must be obtained from the Minister or Administrator.

The above is a direct quote from the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry Guidelines. A hydrogeological study was ordered by Nova Scotia Environment based on the information we provided. We have yet to hear any results.

We also provided research showing the very real concerns of nitrates and other poisonous substances from explosives being released into the environment, of excess sediment due to rock blasting and crushing being released into the very near streams and wetlands, of pH being further lowered (it is already a dangerously low 4.5pH at the nearby Holland Brook), and of arsenic being released from the rock being quarried. Please see the sections on water issues for more information, here and here.



(1) All storm runoff from the operating site and all liquid effluents resulting from the operation shall be collected and treated to meet the following suspended solids concentrations prior to discharge into a watercourse or beyond the property boundaries: (a) maximum suspended solids concentration in an grab sample – 50 mg/l; (b) maximum arithmetic monthly average suspended solids concentration – 25 mg/l.

The quote above is directly from the Pit and Quarry Guidelines for Nova Scotia.

Aggregate quarries produce waste such as dust, silt, liquid effluent discharge, and chemical wastes, and HRM has noted mounting concern about water borne silts in lakes and streams in the Shubenacadie watershed area.

We consulted with the Forest Watershed Research Center and they advised us on the nearby watercourses, wetlands and groundwater. Considered together, the geographical location and hydrology of the site, along with the clearing of 12.6ha by excavation, present great challenges to designing a quarry able to meet the Pit and Quarry Guidelines for suspended sediment. These guidelines, when not properly accommodated, likely lead to sediment suspension and runoff events that may exceed the guidelines limits and during quarry operations. This may have already taken place during the recent excavation operations at the quarry. In terms of sediment filtering, Wetland “A” in Figure 2, which is beyond the property boundaries, may already have accommodated some to the sediment release prior into Soldier Lake but it does not occur in compliance with the Pit and Quarry Guidelines for: reduced 1) effluent introduction into nearby watercourses; and 2) into watercourses beyond the property owned by Scotian Materials.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 12.07.59 AM

The overall suspended solids dilution factor for the water flowing from the two quarry-containing watersheds (pictured above in the pale purple and yellow) can be expected to be about 10, on account of the other inflow areas, and these streams themselves are habitat areas for fish and other wildlife. In addition, the wetland labeled “A” is located on Crown land. Holland Brook (the watercourse leading from the pond to wetland “A” in the large dark green watershed) and Soldier Lake are popular recreational fishing spots known to have trout and bass.  Most of the water that enters the watersheds surrounding the quarry through precipitation and pumping water will flow toward Soldier Lake. According to the industrial application, the till at this location is quite thin (e.g, <50cm), and hydrological modelling predicts that other than a quarter to a third of annual precipitation which evaporates and transpires, much of the rest will flow towards Soldier Lake. Only a small amount likely enters the below-surface bedrock aquifers as long as the bedrock conditions remain impervious. Forest vegetation takes up large quantities of water during the summer, and plays an important role in protecting against soil erosion and allowing ground water recharge. Now that the forest has been cleared on 12.6ha of land, there will likely be much more biologically unfiltered water remaining within the area of the proposed footprint. Wetlands help to keep sediment from entering watercourses in general. However, wetlands can be overtopped especially when small during high flow events. Recent flooding caused provincially mapped wetlands at a nearby location (Perrin Dr. at Sanctuary Court) to become submerged. High flow events in January 2016 caused driveways to wash out on nearby Preakness Crescent.

Why does suspended sediment matter? It smothers fish eggs, causes gill abrasion to fish, hides their food, and reduces productivity in the ecosystem. It scours stream beds and increases erosion. At high levels it’s not good for drinking water or plant life.


(1) No person responsible for the operation of a quarry shall locate the associated works within:
(b) 30 m of the bank of any watercourse or ordinary high water mark;
(2) No person responsible for the operation of a quarry shall blast within:
(b) 30 m of the bank of any watercourse or the ordinary high water mark;
Watercourse: Means the bed and shore of every river, stream, lake, creek, pond, spring, lagoon, or other natural body of water, and the water therein, within the jurisdiction of the Province, whether it contains water or not, and all ground water.

The above is quoted verbatim from the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry Guidelines.

WAM from 2007 LiDAR 3This image was provided to us by the Forest Watershed Research Center. It shows an aerial photo from May 2016, the 30m zone around the footprint, and the flow channels and wet areas based on digital elevation mapping from 2007 LiDAR data. There’s probably some difference between the wet areas and the high water mark, but clearly the 30m separation distance is not being maintained; it overlaps the flow channel itself on the right edge. The wet area above the footprint was the wetland, the wet areas below left are water draining, and the wet area to the right side is a stream. Notice the shape is different between the actual and planned footprint. Perhaps Scotian Materials ran into some drainage issues when they were excavating the footprint.

Rob MacPherson on Rick Howe said the application would be decided based on “facts” and not science. It seems to us that science is causing issues for Scotian Materials. Minister of Environment Margaret Miller stated almost exactly the same thing in the Legislature when asked why she closed public consultation without notice; that the decision will be based on “facts and not letters from the community.” The letters from the community contain science such as this, and the Environment department states they will  use science in their decision-making. The scientists who created the map above were hired in the past by the Nova Scotia government. So, we are truly baffled as to why Nova Scotia Environment wouldn’t want this science to ensure that Scotian Materials is abiding by the Pit and Quarry Guidelines that belong to their department.




(1) The following sound level limits shall be observed at the property boundaries of the pit or quarry:

“Night” 55 dBA

“Evening” 60 dBA

“Day” 65dBA

The above is quoted verbatim from the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry Guidelines.

 Have you been wondering about how noise will affect you if Scotian Materials manages to get the Goffs / Fall River Quarry approved? Blasting aside, which will undoubtedly set your heart racing every time you hear the sirens and the boom and crash, there are many other noises that conveyor belts and heavy equipment and rock crushers will make. It is not lost on us that Scotian Materials has cleared many of the trees which may have acted as noise buffers.
Have a look at the images above. The black and white picture shows the locations of the noise monitoring stations– have a look for the white circles. This is straight out of the Scotian Materials application presented by Rob MacPherson. Scotian Materials claims Miller Lake West is a noisy neighborhood for a semi-rural neighborhood and thus they would not be adding to the noise. Wait a minute… Have a look at the Google Maps image and see for yourself that there are no houses this close to the highway! The other location is next to a field that provides no sound barrier to the highway, unlike our homes. If that isn’t enough, they also dropped data due to “inclement weather” but didn’t say what weather, how much data or the difference between the noise levels. What, was there a quieting fog that wasn’t good for Scotian Materials? We did some home measurements and their measured values are way off.
You can at this video to see as well that maybe the noise of a bird next to their monitor inflated the noise levels.
Don’t know about you but I’ll take 25 song birds over a rock crusher. Miller Lake West is a serene quiet peaceful neighborhood… 

In general, the concern is that noise can increase stress in some people. The maximum sound level alone is not enough to predict a person’s reaction to it; the duration and type of noise (e.g., pitch) is also important. In addition, a person’s annoyance with noise is affected by their expectation of a quiet environment, characteristics such as tones, pulses, screeching, the combined level of sound and the difference between the specific sound and the noise in absence of the specific sound.

The fact that Scotian Materials and their consultants measured noise in the noisiest areas in the nearby community and presented average noise only over an unspecified period of time means that they have ignored: 1) the fact that many areas in that community are extremely quiet and depending on the location, season, and weather do not hear noise from the highway; 2) the background noises such as cars passing on the community roads, aircraft flying, and highway noise, if heard, is intermittent and not constant; 3) the quality of current background noise is completely different from the noise characteristics of quarrying and heavy equipment; 4) humans find constant noise at 55 dBA and above to be extremely annoying, regardless of what the Pit and Quarry guidelines state; and 5) the Pit and Quarry guidelines refer to the property boundaries, not the residential areas. We the residents can attest that this is an extremely quiet neighbourhood and when visitors come here they quite often comment that it is “so quiet.” The noises we hear are birds chirping and frogs peeping. Thus our annoyance with the noise levels is likely to be reached far before the threshold to the Pit and Quarry guidelines are exceeded, which when considered in context is very high and will completely destroy the quiet of the semi-rural environment in the areas closest to the quarry if allowed to proceed.

The Pit and Quarry guidelines (Nova Scotia) state the maximum noise level during the day is 65dBA at the property line. Guidelines for the Use of Explosives in or Near Canadian Fisheries Waters state the maximum pressure in the swim bladder of fish produced by blasting is 100kPa and maximum 13mm/s in spawning area. Scotian Materials and their consultants did not model noise levels at the property boundaries, nor did they produce pressure modelling for the very nearby watercourses which may contain fish and spawning areas. Instead they indicate an absence of fish which is ridiculous as people fish regularly in Holland Brook which is just south of the proposed site. The blasting report written by a world leading expert shows the maximum vibration levels will undoubtedly be exceeded in nearby watercourses. Scotian Materials and their consultants also did not take into account the already loud noises from aircraft near the proposed quarry site.

Allowable noise levels through modelling were exceeded at the western boundary of the proposed Black Point Quarry, which appears to be approximately the same distance as the distance between the proposed Fall River Quarry / Goffs Quarry and the property boundary with crown land. Please note that after the land exchange with land in Tantallon, which perhaps has not been updated in the 2016 industrial application because the land exchange occurred after the application submission, the property boundaries have changed. Because of the changed property boundaries and the noise already at the property boundaries, we can estimate at this time that the noise levels at the property boundaries will easily exceed the allowable noise level as stated in the Pit and Quarry guidelines. Noise receptors are not only humans at the nearest residences, as submitted by Scotian Materials and their consultants, but humans enjoying the nature trails and crown land, and wildlife in their habitats and supposedly safe from harm in the nearby Waverley Game Sanctuary and Waverley Long Lake Salmon River Wilderness Area are also sensitive receptors. Imagine yourself out for a walk on Perrin Drive/Guysborough Rd, or walking the trail around Soldier Lake, or fishing in a nearby river on crown land, when from one direction you hear rock crushers, heavy machinery, and conveyor belts, and then an airplane descends overhead… hardly what you would call a peaceful time enjoying nature.

More information to follow on this topic, for now please see our response to the Minister that “tree harvesting” was the activity that took place in the wetland areas of the proposed site for the Fall River Quarry / Goffs Quarry. Also please have a look at the image below which was captured by Google Earth, an extremely reliable source, on September 5, 2015.
The short-lived permit that was issued was signed September 15th, 2015 (ten days after the image below), and the file shows it wasn’t sent to Scotian Materials until the 17th (twelve days after the image below). Under the Environment Act, site preparation cannot occur until the proponent has the approval in writing. Although the areas cleared by bulldozer by Scotian Materials were mainly outside the area of the proposed footprint (they were in the wet areas as is visible in recent photos and recent Wet Areas Mapping), this was site preparation (Scotian Materials is not a forestry operator, therefore it could not be a forestry operation). We take issue with the fact that site preparation took place prior to approval, that in the 2016 application it states clearing took place in October 2016 (a false statement, also a contravention of the Act), and most importantly that some important wetlands for the health of the watershed were damaged or destroyed by Scotian Materials.
September 5, 2015 (Google Earth image):
wetland destruction with legend
May, 2016 (Stop the Fall River Quarry image):
3 wetlands copy
Photographs taken in May of 2016 show heavy equipment that matches the width of the old tracks, with fresh tracks visible, providing evidence that Scotian Materials has continued to drive through the wetland with heavy equipment, even after Rob MacPherson defended himself publicly in the media and stated we made false claims.
Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 8.05.53 PM
Rob MacPherson says we attacked his “Nova Scotia company” and that no wetland excavation occurred. We think he chooses his language very carefully, sort of like a child does when avoiding getting into trouble. “Wetland excavation,” however interpreted, is still not that different from continually driving through a wetland with an excavator or bulldozer. In fact, our research has shown that one of the biggest issues with forestry in wet areas is that using heavy equipment can lead to soil compacting, which can prevent further growth. We’ll leave it to the experts to determine, but from our research it seems more damage can be caused by deep rutting than digging in some cases, so we remain completely unconvinced that this wetland is unharmed. Have a look at the photos, do some research, and feel free to form your own opinion.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.39.59 PM



(1)(a) No person responsible for the operation of a quarry shall permit any blasting on site to exceed the following limits:

Concussion (Air Blast) 128 dBA

Ground Vibration 0.5 in./sec.
(12.5 mm/s) Peak Particle Velocity

(2) Every person responsible for the operation of a quarry shall have a technical blast design prepared by a qualified person which ensures the ground vibration and air concussion outlined in VIII (1) can be achieved.

The above is a direct quote from the Nova Scotia Pit and Quarry Guidelines.
A report written by a renowned blasting expert with 50 years experience, a PhD in physics, and the creator of a blasting simulator, stated that the first plan provided by Scotian Materials for blasting, which was written by Golder Associates, would result in vibrations of 58.2 mm/s at the natural gas pipeline, which is approximately 200m away. Dr. Favreau noted that it also exceeds the limit imposed by Hydro-Ontario for hydroelectric structures. Six other simulations with variations gave values from 32.9 mm/s to 86.4 mm/s, all far exceeding the limit as noted above of 12.5 mm/s. Dr. Favreau stated that the vibration level of 86.4 mm/s could cut the pipeline. Dr. Favreau tested further situations which are not uncommon such as multiple holes detonating at once. The vibration levels could reach 238.5 mm/s, which again could shear the pipeline in one blast.
The second blasting plan was written by Dyno Nobel for Scotian Materials. Dr. Favreau’s modelling showed that it would result in vibrations of 59.7 mm/s at the natural gas pipeline, which also exceeds the level of 12.5 mm/s.  It too could expect for some holes to reach 84.9 mm/s. Dr. Favreau noted, “should more than one hole detonate on the same delay then the vibration level can reach values above 200 mm/s, i. e. so high as to very likely break the pipeline. The writer has regularly been aware of situations where inadvertently more than one hole detonated simultaneously.”
Dr. Favreau also explained that several blasting contractors use the “One Third Practice,” the practice of predicting that vibration to be expected is so unreliable that contractors use blasts designed to produce 1/3 the value of the allowed vibration limit. This would be a plan to produce 4.2 mm/s and not 59.7 mm/s as is expected regularly from one hole detonating based on Dyno Nobel’s plan.
Dr. Favreau also modelled the concussion air blast based on Golder’s blast plan, and it produced values from 95.4 to 146.8dBA, with eight of ten predicted values exceeding the allowable limit of 128dBA. Examining Dyno Nobel’s plan, Dr. Favreau predicted that the air concussion blast would exceed 128dBA at 1.3km away. This is unfortunately the distance where people reside.
Dr. Favreau took issue with the fact that it was difficult to obtain the information required for his analysis, that Dyno Nobel used a simulator that has been proven in a real-life scenario to underestimate the maximum distance for flyrock, and that the analysis and plan does not include variations from the norm due to regularly-occurring variables such as using a combination of explosives, the bench not breaking fully off, or weakening the blast method. He pointed out that neither explosives plan was signed, which he felt was due to a lack of confidence or taking ownership of the plan. He also noted that if the plan were to abide by the Canada Oil and Gas regulations, not a single bore hole could be blasted because it contains too much weight in explosives for the proximity to the pipeline.

In addition, the results of Dr. Favreau’s blasting simulations show that for the variations of the values of the blast parameters that Dr. Favreau has encountered in quarries, the type of blasts intended for the proposed Scotian Materials quarry will without any doubt send dangerous fly rock regularly, and this is an unacceptable situation for the nearby inhabitants and the traveling public on Highway 102.

The table below shows the maximum predicted levels of vibrations for locations near the proposed site:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 12.07.42 AM

It is unfortunate that the Scotian Material people do not use the reliable methods available (see references 4 and 3) for predicting accurately the vibration levels due to the intended blast methods for the proposed quarry… The planners of the proposed quarry give the impression that they have not enough concern for the security of the inhabitants and the traveling public on Highway 102 near the proposed quarry to even get the required accurate properties of the rock from an exploratory drill hole..As a final conclusion, the writer is of the opinion that the authorities must not under any circumstances give approval to the proposed quarry, because blasting in the location of the proposed quarry is unacceptably dangerous. New quarries should be located far from inhabited regions and pipelines. Quarry operators should accept this, even if it raises their costs of transportation of the excavated stones.”

~ Dr. R. F. Favreau, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Royal Military College

 We can also apply Dr. Favreau’s simulation results to applicable guidelines for the protection of fish. The Guidelines for the Use of Explosives In or Near Canadian Fisheries Waters state:

No explosive is to be detonated that produces, or is likely to produce, a peak particle velocity greater than 13 mm/s in a spawning bed during the period of egg incubation.

There are watercourses and wetlands surrounding the proposed quarry footprint where people regularly fish. The closest are within 30m, as described above in the setbacks section. These are far closer than the pipeline, so it may be inferred from the results above that if at 200m the ground vibrations far exceed the limit of 12.5 mm/s, that it is also totally impossible under the proposed blasting plans to abide by these guidelines and prevent the destruction of fish eggs.
Furthermore, these guidelines set a limit of 100kPa be produced in the swim bladders of fish. The table given in the guidelines does not exceed 100kg of explosives, so it is not possible to determine the appropriate setback. At 35kg of explosives, which is a single charge, the nearest value is 50kg. At this weight of explosives, the explosives must be 35.6m or more from the fish habitat. Yet again, this is a colossal failure on the part of Scotian Materials to protect wildlife in this plan, as the proposed blasts involve 8,888 to 24,893kg, and not 35kg, and the setbacks are less than 35.6m.
Early on in our quest for scientific information, we came across the notion of “Wet Areas Mapping” (or WAM), which is predictive modelling based on the topography of the land and known water features and can be used to indicate where wet areas will be. These wet areas may be wetlands, though proper delineation is required by certified wetland delineators. We sent Nova Scotia Environment this image, which predicted that water would drain straight through the proposed footprint. As you may notice, the WAM was obtained from a map on the Nova Scotia government website.superimposed wet areasIn addition, we pointed out that the consultants (Golder Associates) who had delineated the wetlands were not certified nor on Nova Scotia Environment’s list of certified wetland delineators. As a result of the letters we sent, a certified wetland delineation was ordered. We have no idea where this stands. Wetland delineation is normally done during the dry season so that it captures an area that depends on water year-round. The minister in her response to the complaint our group made about unauthorized wetland alteration, stated this consultant was “qualified.” We don’t know why she said this. The situation is still unfolding and we are currently doing deeper research on the wetlands subject.
We hired experts to determine the distances to certain landmarks because we determined that the measurements Scotian Materials provided in the application were convenient (e.g., no structures within 800m), but impossible. It created what we referred to as “negative space” or a “negative footprint.”
There are roughly 5100m between the airport and the nearest residence boundary. According to Scotian Materials, the proposed quarry will be 298m long and be 1500m from the nearest residential well and 4000m from the airport. This makes 5500m. Impossible. According to Scotian Materials, they are both closer to the Highway, and closer to the pipeline and Game Sanctuary. Impossible with a 3.9ha quarry footprint. According to Scotian Materials, they are further from the scales but further from the airport. Impossible. We presented this to Nova Scotia Environment and they also saw this as an issue, considering the proximity of watercourses, wetlands and structures measurements are necessary. They ordered a land survey be done for accurate measurements. We are happy about this, but we haven’t heard back any results, so we don’t have any idea where this stands.


As is well known, pyritic slate (acid generating rock) is common to the area and has been an on-going problem in Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia, causing major recent projects to halt and cost millions of dollars more than projected costs. “Acid rock drainage, once it appears, is virtually impossible to reverse and with the current technology, its treatment can cost millions of dollars and go on for centuries (Feasby and Tremblay 1995; Jennings et al. 2008).” The site, as per the proponent and scientific mapping, contains Goldenville Formation.

The proposed site is also near the border of the Halifax Formation, the highest-risk acid-generating rock, and is possibly in an area called the Goldenville-Halifax Transition (GHT) zone, which has not had as much study except to find that this is a distinct area with abundant sulphides and high concentration of metals. The transition zone has only been mapped in SouthWest Nova Scotia, and not in the Halifax area. However, in all mapped areas of transition zones, the risk is moderate of acid-producing potential. Recent articles have shown the GHT zone is 800m in one area studied in Southwest Nova Scotia, and that previous maps of the boundary between the Goldenville and Halifax formations were inaccurate by 500-1000m. Other researchers found that the “boundary between the Goldenville and Halifax formations [was located] at the highest exposed bed of quartzite in the Goldenville.” The transition zone is thought to be up to half a mile wide.

Because of the damage caused by acid rock drainage, Nova Scotia developed regulations, some portions of which are quoted below.

Sulphide Bearing Material Disposal Regulations

6 (1) Where a developer of any proposed development knows or ought to know that the proposed development will involve the physical disturbance or disposition of aggregate in a measure greater than 500 m3 in situ or 1300 tonnes and which contains a sulphide bearing material, the developer shall immediately notify an Administrator of the proposed development.

(2) The developer identified in subsection (1) shall supply an Administrator with a map number and grid reference (1:50 000 map series) that identifies the location of the proposed development.


7 (1) Unless exempted under Section 5, a developer shall

(b) take two samples that are representative of the lands to be developed for each hectare or part thereof to be developed; 

(2) A sample provided under subsection (1) may be taken by

(a) the test pit method at 0.5 m intervals for the first 2 m depth of sulphide bearing material and thereafter at 1 m intervals to the depth of the proposed excavation site;

(b) the core method with the sample being split along its axis half and the core analyzed along its entire length; or

(c) the trenching method with the sample being analyzed along its entire length.

One test result was included in the application. One. It was from outside the proposed footprint. When the footprint moved and changed shapes between applications, the sample analysis didn’t change. It does not say how deep the sample was taken. The regulations state TWO samples that are REPRESENTATIVE for each HECTARE. For a 3.9ha quarry, that’s 8 samples. In several places in the application the word “samples” with an “s” is used, samples, the plural of sample. But only one test result was given. Does not inspire confidence in us that the proposed quarry site does not contain acid-generating rock. The solution Scotian Materials provides for if/when they come across the slate of the Halifax Formation? Toss it aside.

Consider the following quote from a scientific article, regarding land adjacent to the proponent’s property:

One of the earliest and most extensively studied sites associated with ARD [acid rock drainage] in HRM involved the construction and subsequent expansion(s) of the Robert Stanfield International Airport (previously referred to as the Halifax International Airport). Here a direct correlation was demonstrated between construction activity in the Halifax Group and significant fish kills in the nearby Shubenacadie River between 1960 and 1976 (Pasava et al. 1995; Worgan 1987). Remediation and treatment costs have averaged one million dollars annually at the airport, and treatment of surface waters continues (Hicks 2003).

This type of rock is such a concern to Nova Scotia that it has been included in provincial legislation, with specific regulations required for its disposal. Nova Scotia Environment employees must insist the proponent follow ALL Nova Scotia Environment regulations for rock-testing for acid-generating potential. Note also that the proponent refused to provide the scientific names of rocks found on the site when requested by legal counsel for our community group. This could be an attempt to conceal the fact that there is slate on the property, which is an indication of rock with acid-generating potential.

The Environment & Sustainability Standing Committee of Halifax directed that rather than test the rock itself for sulphide sulphur percentage when extracting within the Halifax Formation, which can be inaccurate, “the prudent approach… is to assume the rock is acid generating, unless extensive testing at the time of construction is able to demonstrate otherwise.” Wouldn’t that be a prudent approach considering the sensitive area and the moderate-risk potential of acid-rock drainage in the transition zone?

From the Scotian Materials website, the proponent concludes the site will not produce acidic water because one of the nearby neighbourhoods can drink well water:

The groundwater resources in the area were previously studied by T. Lay and Nolan, White & Associates (1979).  This study reports that groundwater from the Goldenville Formation is generally considered good drinking water quality but, may contain elevated concentrations of iron, manganese and arsenic and may have low pH. Therefore, it is assumed that the water quality of the domestic wells at Miller Lake West is generally of acceptable quality and meets the Nova Scotia Department of Environment potable water standards as well as the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines with potential treatment requirements for hardness, iron, manganese and arsenic.

Wait a minute, the Goldenville Formation produces groundwater with low pH? That was supposed to be a cue to Scotian Materials to follow the regulations, and Nova Scotia Environment to ensure they were followed. Employees at Nova Scotia Environment should ask why the proponent is assuming anything after citing a source that states the rock type produces acid,

The Environment Act of Nova Scotia makes clear that Nova Scotia Environment is the lead agency to define contaminants and regulate wastes and acid-generating rock. From the Nova Scotia Environment website: “Environmental Assessment Regulations under the Environment Act require that undertakings which disrupt a total of two or more hectares of any wetland must undergo an environmental assessment… High priority sites will include those in watersheds and regions where wetland loss has been high and ecosystem services or functions are below thresholds necessary to maintain watershed health.”

Even if the rock on the proposed site is found to be not acid-generating, the acid-rock drainage and acidity levels of nearby watercourses are still at issue. The Halifax Airport site continues to degrade the water nearby. According to Fox, Robinson and Zentilli (1997), in the headwater region for the Salmon River watershed just south of HSIA, acid rock drainage is treated with lime but only about 50% gets treated, and “untreated ARD bypasses the treatment facility through a stormwater interceptor drain and through groundwater leakage… Lund et al. (1987) estimated approximately 16,000 kg/year Al and 250,000kg/year acidity by-pass the treatment facility and discharge directly into McDowell Brook.” One of the remediation efforts near the airport has been to install an artificial wetland vegetated system. It stands to reason, then, that given the proximity to the airport, the Halifax Formation, and its location in a watershed, the proposed site should be studied to determine what effects the wetlands in this area may have on improving the quality of water that drains from the HSIA site or other nearby areas of the Halifax Formation and into this area. In addition, Arnold (2004), found that rock in the GHT zone, while falling below the threshold for being considered acid-generating, and while being of neutral pH itself, still had potential to lower the pH of freshwater to as low as 3.9, a level at which fish are killed and undesirable species of plankton and mosses begin to grow. As stated previously, we did water testing ourselves and Holland Brook is already at a dangerously low 4.5pH. It will not survive further lowering of the pH.


“Note that the Minister can use discretion as it relates to Environmental Assessment particularly if the pit and quarry are in close proximity.” On June 13, 2011, this conversation took place between Nova Scotia Environment and a representative of Maritime Fence (also under umbrella of Maritime Falls Group/ Northern Construction). On this date, the to-be-quarry operator, that eventually became Scotian Materials, was told that because of the 2 acre clay pit on the property, any additional pit would have to total 2ha or less without requiring an industrial approval. And again, he reminded the rep that 4ha or larger quarries require Environmental Assessment.Scotian Materials Goffs Fall River Quarry It later came up in the file that there is ALSO an old gravel pit (TIR pit) which has been nonoperational since the 1960’s and was never reclaimed. The clay pit has an active approval. Right now. Currently. This means there are already 2 pits on the property using the same access road. Rob MacPherson likes to remind us all of the gravel pit because he thinks it proves our reasoning is wrong. However it has long been abandoned, and we think it points to more special treatment. Robert MacPherson claimed the proposed Fall River Quarry/ Goffs Quarry location was the site of a quarrying operation in the past….”historically,” says he. This is the quarrying operation he was referring to….. Not a quarrying operation at all. This is an old TIR Pit that was used in twinning of the 102 highway. It was funnyish to hear him misrepresent this fact while repeatedly touting facts and rules, etc. Think about this too. How many years has this pit been sitting in an abandoned state, and because it has been scraped and cleared of its soils, it still sits as an exposed rock face. Nothing grows here. He is talking to an anonymous listenener, hoping to garner support from a listener base that is naive to the facts here. Problem is, he is coming away less knowledgeable than the opponents. There is no blasting taking place here, nor has there for half a century, if ever; pit means it is dug and not blasted.

Scotian Materials Fall River Quarry Goffs Quarry 2

The total quarry size is supposed to include the road and all associated works. But so far Nova Scotia Environment is claiming the roadway pre-existed, which is not accurate. It was a muddy path. As well pre-existing would need to imply it serves more than one purpose. The other purpose is to lead to the two other pits on the property.

So how many separate pits and quarries does Scotian Materials get to operate using the same access road, exactly? Do they just get to add small pits and quarries indefinitely, and never have an Environmental Assessment conducted? Why does it seem like Nova Scotia Environment just threw out the rule book when it comes to Scotian Materials?



The proposed site for the Fall River Quarry / Goffs Quarry is on land owned by Northern Construction (which owns Scotian Materials and Maritime Fence). This land is surrounded by highway 102, Crown Land, and the proposed quarry footprint is less than 600m from the boundary to the Waverley Game Sanctuary. The Waverley Game Sanctuary in some areas overlaps with the Waverley Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area. Both are connected by waterways to the property owned by Northern Construction; a series of lakes, rivers and streams, and wetlands connects hundreds of hectares worth of water.

According to the Wildlife Act regulations (http://www.novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/ wigeneral.htm):

5A A person must not administer, attempt to administer or make available any drug, chemical or other substance that is capable of doing any of the following to non-captive wildlife unless the person is authorized to do so by the Director of Wildlife:

  1. (a)  chemically marking an animal; or
  2. (b)  altering any biological process, function or state of an animal.

Many of our lakes are already acidic in Nova Scotia and in particular the surrounding lakes Soldier and Miller, with pH values last recorded (1983) of 4.5 to 5.6 (http://novascotia.ca/nse/ surface.water/lakesurveyprogram.asp Lake Chemistry data sheet and http://novascotia.ca/nse/ surface.water/docs/AcidityInLakesCV.pdf). Tests performed by our group on the water of Holland Brook in February 2016 showed it has a pH of 4.5. As the research presented by our group indicates, the rock to be quarried likely has high levels of iron and arsenic, and most likely will further reduce the pH of the watercourses nearby. The project site is very near the Waverley Game Sanctuary, within 600m according to the application. Under the regulations, “No person shall at any time hunt, take, injure, trap, snare, shoot, wound, kill or destroy any game animal, fur bearing animal, or other wild animal, or any game bird or other wild bird within the limits of the game sanctuary” (http://www.novascotia.ca/ just/regulations/regs/wiwavley.htm ). The explosives MSDS sheet says on it not to release it into the environment. Under the current plan from Scotian Materials, it undoubtedly will be released into the environment, as the only method of filtering the effluent is to allow sediment to settle in ponds (that are likely too small), then to pump the water out onto a pile of rocks and release it into the environment. This will not remove dissolved elements. Regarding deleterious substances and chemicals being released into the water, members of our group have already submitted research to Nova Scotia Environment showing 1) the proximity of watercourses and wetlands 2) the connectivity of those watercourses and wetlands to other watercourses, wetlands and lakes in the sanctuary, wilderness area and protected watershed area, 3) the potential of harmful chemicals being released from blasting and 4) the potential for harmful metals being released from the rock itself. If this water contains deleterious substances, this will be in direct contravention to 1) the intended use of the land owned by Northern Construction which is not zoned for resource extraction and the intended use of crown land for parks, trails and enjoyment, 2) the Fisheries Act, 3) the Waverley Game sanctuary regulations, 4) the Wildlife Act regulations and 5) the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.  In addition, the last records of catches from the Nova Scotia government website show the American Eel lives in Soldier Lake.5 The American Eel is considered Threatened, Special Concern or a Species at Risk, depending on the document consulted and the location, and its status is currently under review.

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.