Slipping back: background facts

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Kate Aley

Welcome back. While I wait for my file on the accident (December 4) to be retrieved by the MRC des Collines police, I placed calls to two local people, experts on the trucking of manure. For those who are coming in late to this, see my previous "slippery" stories archived here.

First I called a man who owns a business that provides septic tank services among other things. He was particularly helpful and patient, I must say.

He told me that the appearance of septic waste totally depends on how many people use the tank and how often it is emptied: a heavily used tank could contain heavy black solids, a less-used tank would have a lot more watery material. Companies west of Gatineau generally truck the waste to UTEau at the Pontiac Industrial Park situated in the Municipality of Litchfield (often mistakenly identified as being in Portage-du-Fort). Septic waste trucking services based on the other side of Gatineau are more likely to use more locally-based waste treatment sites, except for one in particular that actually owns the UTEau site and so transports waste from the Montebello area across the city to the Pontiac.

When asked about the possibility of a leak, his response was, at first, adamant: it is not possible. The tank must be able to maintain an unbroken vacuum in order for the pump to operate, both to suck up the load and afterwards to discharge it. Later, another thought occurred: if the truck has a release control in the cab, an accidental spill could occur.

Emptying a household septic tank in cold weather is not generally recommended, he said. The bacteria that help consume waste in a septic tank slow down in cold weather. Therefore, if it is emptied in sub-zero temperatures, they could become too cold to be effective. 

Human septic waste is kind of revolting but not actually dangerous, no more dangerous to your health than if you touched your own waste and did not wash your hands. Far more risky is the possibility of a gas build-up in the tank used to transport septic waste:this is a danger only for the operator, of course. Septic waste is treated by raising temperatures to a level that kills pathogens, as with compost. The resulting material can used as a fertilizer for fields, the safety of which is another whole argument.

So, in short, while unlikely that septic sludge was being trucked at this this time of the year and very unlikely that a truck would leak or spill that waste, it is possible.

After this I called another very kind and patient man who was once a pig farmer in this district. I was sure that pig manure was the only kind of animal manure that is stored and transported in a liquid state, but he corrected me.

Dairy cattle manure can be stored in a pit, tank or lagoon and this is transported to fertilize fields in large tanker trailers. However, this is generally done in the spring or early fall: to spread manure on fields after October 1st requires a special permit from the Ministry of the Environment. This is not hard to get, but it's something to avoid having to get, he said.

There are some dairy farms in Luskville; there are no more pig farms here.

Again, in summary, it is unlikely but possible the spill was animal manure.

The culprit was not discovered and is not currently sought by the MTQ.

It remains to be discovered if that person is being sought by the police and, if found, if he or she will be charged. You'll know when I find out.

Drive safely, everyone.

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Slippery story: the update

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Kate Aley

On Monday December 4, a serious accident was caused by some kind of slippery fluid being splashed all over the highway in Luskville. Many people commented on the unexpectedly deep puddles, the effort it took to stay on the road and the horrible stink of it. There was so much, a snow plow was called in to strip it off the road. What was that stuff? Where did it come from? I managed to find someone to talk to from the MTQ within two days. But as yet, my attempts to get information about this incident from the MRC des Collines police have been unproductive. 

Warming up for Christmas at the Santa Claus Parade

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Kate Aley

Once more the Quyon Lions' Club Santa Claus Parade, held Saturday December 9, was a great success. Warmly-dressed families lined the streets to enjoy the decorated floats, horses and of course, St. Nick himself. As the Beach Barn is conspicuously absent this year, the parade's normal route was reversed, with participants gathering at the Ste. Marie's Catholic church parking lot and walking down the hill to the intersection with Clarendon. From there, the parade continued to the Onslow Elementary School gym where hot food and drinks were served as kids lined up to speak to Santa about a few important matters.

Slippery sh*t: unidentified effluent causes accident

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Kate Aley

A serious single-vehicle roll-over was caused early morning on December 4 by a deep slick of some kind of waste matter spilled on Highway 148 near Parker Road in Luskville. Pools of what appeared to be septic waste or liquid animal manure were at least two or three meters in length and possibly 4 cm in depth, according to witnesses.

Christmas House Tour lights up the night

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Kate Aley

The houses on the Quyon Pastoral Charge Christmas House Tour warmly received 150 visitors this year. Five family homes in Quyon and Luskville were decorated to perfection to the appreciation of all. Above, the Draper homestead in Luskville.

Scheer in Pontiac: We shouldn’t let the politics of envy divide one group of Canadians against another

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Thomas Soulière

SHAWVILLE — The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada spent the first day of December visiting the federal riding of Pontiac with stops in Campbell’s Bay, Fort Coulonge and Shawville to speak to farmers, small business owners and voters about the CPC’s position on the Liberal government’s tax policy and to show the Conservative’s strong support of supply management.

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