Ontario Construction Report staff writer
Durham Region has halted a paving project that was a pilot project using recycled material to reconstruct part of Newtonville Road in Clarington after residents found syringes, needles, toothbrushes, batteries and other “toxic waste” on the road. Construction has been paused until further notice so staff can verify what recycled materials are being used on the pilot project.
Dufferin Construction started work on Aug. 29 and was expected to complete construction by Nov. 4.
“We are taking the concerns brought forward on this project seriously. Regional staff are working with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks as we verify the details of the recycled material used in the road base,” said John Presta, commissioner of works, Region of Durham.
“The verification process will take time, to allow a thorough review. The paving of the road will not commence until this process is complete.”
Andrew McVey was one of several residents to present their concerns – and photos of items found in the paving material – to Clarington council at a Sept. 19 meeting.
“The picture up there is a decaying battery. That battery was found amongst a whole bunch of other garbage. There’s batteries, crushed cell phone parts, syringes, needles, a metal razor blade, antenna particles, keys, some pennies . . . Need I say more?” McVey asked. “It’s stuff that should be in a proper landfill. That’s toxic waste.”
McVey and his neighbours accuse that “Durham Region has recklessly dumped garbage” on the two-kilometre stretch of Newtonville Road, posing a danger to the area and the watershed.
“It’s not like the pilot project said that it’s supposed to be broken glass and non biodegradable pieces of plastic. It’s filth.
“It’s complete recklessness and shame on the people who are doing this,” McVey said.
The rehabilitation pilot project design—a 3.6-kilometre stretch of roadway in the Municipality of Clarington—provided an innovative opportunity for road construction,” staff noted in reports to council.
According to a statement on the region’s public works department website, staff was notified on Sept 15 through the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) of a resident’s complaint regarding the Newtonville Road work.
The region is reviewing the matter to verify that the recycled materials being used on the pilot project meets the project specifications and has instructed the contractor to defer paving until the review is complete.
Road work was to be split into two phases that would help assess and evaluate different performances in traditional and recycled materials.
Phase one was completed in fall 2021 recycling the existing road base and using other traditional materials.
If successful, using recycled materials (phase two) could help reduce the volume of aggregate materials mined and trucked in for road construction, while possibly increasing the strength, durability and overall pavement life cycle of the road network.
Also, by using recycled materials in road reconstruction projects, Durham had planned to reuse about 400 tonnes of recycled glass in the granular base and approximately six tonnes of recycled plastics and 4.5 tonnes of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibres made from recycled plastics in the asphalt.
The second phase, however, is in progress using recycled materials reusing glass processed at the region’s material recovery facility. Although phase two has been stopped, the contractor will remain onsite to complete other aspects of the reconstruction project, such as grading.