Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 20, 2000
Rennie Street Dump Stink
No matter how it adds up, that’s a lot of garbage; Visualize this: The 400,000 cubic metres of Rennie Street garbage are equivalent to the height of a 23-storey building.
Newspaper reporters tend to be better with words than numbers.And with numbers as with words, we try to tell a story in simple terms, making it as easy to understand as possible.
So, when it came to writing about the old Rennie Street dump — a place few Hamiltonians have visited — this reporter asked city officials how big it was, how much garbage was in it.
Almost no one around City Hall today was there when the dump was used, so answers were hard to come by.
None of the readily available documents said, for instance, it covered five hectares 10 metres deep.
But on Monday, after the city pleaded guilty to letting the dump pollute Red Hill Creek, waste management director Peter Dunn supplied part of a consultant’s report saying it held 400,000 cubic metres of garbage.
In an effort to help visualize that, to make it meaningful, this reporter tried to calculate how much that would be piled on the playing field at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
A quick calculation suggested two and a half storeys high, and that’s what appeared in the paper yesterday.
But on reflection that seemed too small for a dump used for about a dozen years in the 1950s and early 1960s.
So, back to the calculator, where a second effort showed a 110-by-65-yard playing surface equals 5,978 square metres.
A layer one metre high would amount to 5,978 cubic metres. And it would take 70 layers to make 400,000 cubic metres.
That’s a stack 70 metres or almost 23 storeys tall (or about 10 times higher than reported yesterday).
In the simplest terms, that’s a whole lot of garbage.
And it’s not all TV dinner trays and carpet scraps — there’s also industrial waste containing toxic PCBs and several pesticides no longer licensed for use in Canada.
That’s why it will cost an estimated $11 million to try to stop the leakage and minimize harm to the surrounding area. (Hamilton Spectator, A4, 9/20/2000)