Marineland graves no threat: MOE

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review


Marineland has been ordered to stop burying dead animals on site for now, despite passing a recent Ministry of Environment inspection.

Having completed a preliminary assessment of Marineland, the MOE on Monday said it has concluded the theme park's activity of burying its dead animals on site is not impacting water quality in the Welland River.

"Provincial water quality objectives were not exceeded for any of the parameters," MOE spokeswoman Kate Jordan said in an e-mail statement Monday afternoon.

"The water chemistry results were similar between the two sampling locations and do not indicate that the property is having a measurable impact on water quality in the Welland River."

She said the assessment of the site also showed "little potential for groundwater movement."

At the end of December, in response to reports Marineland was burying its animals on site, MOE inspectors visited the property to gather samples of the area to make sure the burial sites are not having any adverse effects on surrounding lands.

The ministry assessed water samples from the Welland River, both upstream and downstream from Marineland. The samples were analyzed for materials such as E. coli.

"These parameters would be expected to be elevated from contamination associated with decaying organic matter," said Jordan, adding they were not in the Marineland case.

Despite that, the MOE issued Marineland what is known as a provincial officers order to stop burying dead animals on the site, and to hire a consultant to prepare and implement a plan to assess the burial sites, she said.

"Marineland has also been told it must obtain ministry approval for the burial of dead animals. The ministry will determine if additional steps are required after completing a full assessment of waste activities at the site."

While the order requires Marineland to stop burying dead animals immediately, the company could resume the practice if it can demonstrate the site is suitable for burials and they wouldn't harm the surrounding environment.

The Review learned the MOE sent a hydrogeologist, a surface water specialist and a senior environmental officer to Marineland for the December inspection.

The MOE dug two test pits in the vicinity of the burial sites.

When asked for a response, Marineland said: "The MOE provided Marineland with their initial results of their investigation, which confirmed that there is no measurable impact on water quality in the Welland River and no measurable impact on local surface water."

The theme park said it co-operated fully with the MOE's review and assisted them with its investigation.

Marineland said the provincial officers order was issued in consultation with the company.

"The purpose ... is to confirm the initial conclusions of the MOE investigators and to conduct further hydrogeological investigation and report back to the MOE," said Marineland.

The theme park said it's doing so "voluntarily and intends to work co-operatively with the MOE to continue to ensure that it complies fully with all environmental laws and regulations.

"Marineland is working together with the MOE to ensure that all appropriate approvals or permits, if necessary, are in place and anticipate that process will be completed shortly."

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