Thirty-three communities in Bellechasse Regional County Municipality are now using the landfill for their domestic and industrial waste.
But over the past five years, people living right next to the dump say they have gotten sick, lost harvests and their property values have plummeted.
The town has had a municipal dump since the late 1970s, but residents say the problems started in 2002, when the dump was turned into an engineered landfill.
Residents complain of headaches
The disposal methods are different under the new system, with waste piled into large compartments that are sealed off by membranes. It also allows larger amounts of waste to be treated at the site.
Pauline Rodrigue, a 59-year-old farmer who lives about one kilometre from the site, said at first it seemed well managed, but around 2010 her neighbours started complaining about strong odours coming from the site.
She said it burned her lungs and eyes.
“I’d get heart pain, headaches, bronchitis,” Rodrigue, who is on a citizens’ committee that monitors the landfill, told Quebec AM.
Her neighbour, Robert Martineau, says he`s afraid for his six-year-old son.
“We’re risking our life here,” he said.
Martineau said he wants the local municipal authority (MRC), which owns the dump, to relocate his family.
Site location questioned
Municipal councillor Gene Bourgeau said the site never should have been built so close to homes in the first place.
“I think the solution is to get people out of there, close the site, and move it somewhere else,” Bourgeau said.
The MRC admits a material used to cover the site at night was releasing gases. It’s been banned for the past three years.
But leftovers buried under the waste are still causing gas episodes.
Rodrigue insists if the MRC can't bring toxicity levels down to zero, they should close down.