Originally the site in St. Clair Township was established for its geographical strength, being close to Lambton County's petrochemical industry. More than 30 years later, the Lambton facility continues to present an advantage of location, although its general service area has grown to a radius of approximately 400 kilometres.
Our Lambton site is the only licensed, integrated hazardous waste management facility within Ontario. In fact, due to the high capital investment and specialized operating requirements associated with proper hazardous waste management, there are relatively few comparable facilities in North America. As a result, it is common for our facilities, like the Lambton site, to meet the environmental protection needs of a wide range of communities. Those needs often extend outside our service areas and even beyond municipal, provincial and national boundaries.
The facility serves heavy and light industries, commercial businesses, households and governments meeting the needs of waste generators from across the economic spectrum, including: electronics, aerospace, automotive, building materials, appliances, transportation, recreation and leisure, fuels, rubber, construction, lubricants, chemicals, plastics, mining, home and garden products, cosmetics, clothing, medicines, agricultural implements, food processing, steel, products-packaging and paints.
The facility is part of the Clean Harbors network of on-site, collection, transportation, recycling, treatment and disposal services, which are dedicated to the safe and efficient management of hazardous waste.
The Lambton facility is also geologically well suited for the location of a secure landfill to contain hazardous waste. In Ontario, the environmental integrity of a secure landfill is determined by the site's natural ability to contain waste material, in addition to the way the facility is designed and operated. The Lambton facility site is founded on a massive layer of clay till, approximately 40 metres thick. The clay is so resistant to the passage of water that researchers have calculated it would take thousands of years for even a trace of contained material to move through the natural barrier.
The property was first used for industrial waste treatment in the early 1960s. The owner-operator was a local company, Goodfellow Enterprises. In 1968, a liquid waste incinerator was built. Even though regulations to control operation of a hazardous waste treatment plant did not exist at the time, Goodfellow consulted a number of government agencies and held a public meeting to answer questions about the project.
The new incinerator had a 38-metre high stack and was designed to process about 12,000 tonnes of waste a year.
The site was purchased by Tricil Limited in 1973. The company continued to operate the incinerator, but began immediately to improve its efficiency and capacity. The entire property received the same treatment. Open lagoons used for storing and treating waste, a frequent source of odours, were replaced with closed storage tanks. The company instituted a coding system in order to characterize and track waste to be processed and to exclude undesirable materials.
Design of a new incinerator began in 1979. It was to be a custom unit, intended to treat the range of waste that had been arriving at the site from Ontario industry since 1960. The company aimed for the highest attainable standards of pollution control. The use of a spray dryer and baghouse filter unit to reduce acid gas emissions and to capture ash—a unique pollution control system at the time—was tested on the original incinerator, beginning in 1980.
The new liquid waste incinerator began operation during 1983 and was officially commissioned in October of that year. The original unit was eventually demolished in 1986 to make room for further facility improvements.
Many less spectacular, but equally important improvements followed. The pollution control system of the incinerator was further refined to improve efficiency and reduce odours. In 1987, a pre-treatment unit was added to prepare the increasing quantities of waste emulsions for the liquid incinerator. The baghouse was rebuilt and totally enclosed. Since 1991, the waste injection and air flow systems have been undergoing modification. Improved instrumentation and controls have been installed to improve efficiency and, specifically, to reduce emissions of mercury and dioxins to meet stringent new Canada-wide standards introduced by regulators.
To monitor underground conditions and groundwater quality adjacent to the landfill, the company began a program in 1974 of drilling monitoring wells at various points in and around the property. In 1985, an application was made to increase by 26 hectares the existing 40 hectares certified for landfill. Improvements in surface water control, landscaping, landfill operation and an extension of the groundwater monitoring program were also included in the proposal which received Ministry of the Environment approval in 1986.
The secure chemical landfill operation was further improved in 1986, with the addition of a physical/chemical pre-treatment plant. The unit was used to neautralize inorganic liquid wastes and stabilize non-solid waste to the company's self-imposed standards, before the material was placed in the landfill.
In December 1989, Tricil's operations were purchased by Laidlaw, Inc. of Burlington, Ontario. As a result, the St. Clair Township location became part of a new company, Laidlaw Environmental Services, Ltd. Under Laidlaw ownership, the Lambton facility continued to implement improvements and build a reputation as the preferred source of hazardous waste management services in the Great Lakes region.
After further corporate mergers in 1998, Laidlaw operated the facility as part of Safety-Kleen, Ltd.
On September 6, 2002, Clean Harbors, Inc. ("Clean Harbors") (NYSE: CLH), the leading provider of environmental and hazardous waste services throughout North America, completed the acquisition of Safety-Kleen's Chemical Services Division (CSD) which included the St. Clair Township facility.