Picton Terminals’ cover is blown!

News / October 28, 2017

Stormy weather

On Sunday October 8, the last of Hurricane Nathan’s big winds roared into Picton.  For several days before, news of the impending storm had circulated widely through the media. This allowed ample time for Picton Terminals (PT) to take emergency measures to prevent their massive salt piles from leaching into Picton Bay.  But despite requests and even orders over the past year from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), PT failed to do so.  Instead, the company continued to rely primarily on flimsy plastic tarpaulins, rather than the more rugged – and expensive – heavy black covers which have previously been used widely, but now cover only one end of the long wall of salt.

By Sunday afternoon the cost of this neglect became starkly clear, when lashing winds peeled off a large section of tarpaulin, exposing the road salt to wind, rain and run-off. Several nearby residents reported this incident to the MOECC spills hotline.

Then came the deluge.  Sunday night through Monday morning, October 8-9, Picton reported one of the highest rainfalls in Ontario, 60 mm.  As a direct result, no surprise, a massive amount of exposed road salt washed into the Bay, in a significant spill that continued through the week.  Observers followed the course of the spill by the spread of salt stains on the cliff-face that PT had carved out of the escarpment.

The proof is in the salt stains.

The back-story

After a series of air and water-borne pollution incidents, studies and reports (details here), in November 2016 the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change issued Picton Terminals a Provincial Officer’s Order.  One of its major requirements was to reduce substantially the amount of salt pollution originating on the PT site by ensuring that the salt piles were covered adequately to prevent runoff due to wind and rain.

A year later, clearly the MOECC Order has failed dismally to accomplish this objective.

Meanwhile, in March 2017 an industrial barge sank at the Picton Terminals’ dock.  It spilled toxic chemicals into the Bay, generating an oil slick that infiltrated Picton’s drinking water intake zone, forcing an emergency shutdown of the town’s water supply.   (Extensive details here.)

In July 2017, ignoring the MOECC order, PT failed to cover a newly delivered shipload of salt, leaving it exposed to substantial rainfall for over five weeks.

And on they go, with apparent impunity.

Questions need to be asked

How does Picton Terminals keep getting away with ignoring MOECC orders to stop contaminating Picton Bay and adjoining properties?  Why is there no enforcement?  Why are there no conditions on doing business, no sanctions?

Despite PT’s record of pollution incidents, the majority of Prince Edward County municipal councilors continue to support this company and its project.  Why?

Why is the County government failing to enforce its own by-laws?

Why do citizen volunteers have to go to court to defend the Bay, the sole source of Picton’s drinking water supply, and to seek the due diligence that our elected representatives have shirked?  (Details here and here, on why this case had to be launched).

Going to court

In the absence of a responsible initiative by PEC Council, Save Picton Bay is seeking a legal decision.  The question to be decided: What is Picton Terminals’ legal zoning status, and what does it permit them to do?  Save Picton Bay’s lawyer Eric Gillespie will argue that they can’t continue their current activities; PT and the County’s lawyer will argue that they can.  At stake: the health of Picton Bay and responsible governance.  The case will be heard at the Superior Court of Justice, Picton, at a date to be determined.  We’ll keep you posted.

Add your voice

Municipal councilors and MOECC officials hear a lot from Picton Terminals.  They hear from Save Picton Bay – when we can get their attention.  Now they need to hear from others, people who care about Picton Bay, people who rely directly or indirectly (eg bulk water deliveries for wells and cisterns) on the Picton water supply, people who care about responsible government and the shared environment on which we depend for our lives and well-being.

Councilors can be contacted at the email addresses and phone numbers listed here.

MOECC officials can be contacted here:

Todd Smith, MPP for Prince Edward Hastings can be contacted here.


It takes a lot to go to court.  Please help.  Visit and follow either of two Donate buttons at top and bottom of the screen.

Weather alert

Once again, heavy rains are expected to hit Picton Sunday through Monday, October 29-30.

Save Picton Bay will be monitoring the impact at Picton Terminals.

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October 26, 2017