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City staff cleared on illegal soil dumping allegations

City staff cleared on illegal soil dumping allegations

An independent investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by the City of Hamilton or its staff in soil dumping has concluded that the allegations are unsubstantiated.

The investigation found no information that would indicate that contaminated soil from the Woodward and Governor’s Road public works projects was improperly disposed of at the named soil fill site (also known as the “Waterdown Gardens property).

The investigation was conducted by Kroll Forensic Investigations and Intelligence. Kroll identified documentation indicating that contaminated soil accepted by the soil fill site came from locations outside the City of Hamilton.

Furthermore, the investigation determined that allegations that two City employees were involved in the haulage of contaminated soil to the property were also unsubstantiated. As a result, both employees identified in the statement of claim will be reinstated to their regular duties.

In January 2021, a statement of claim filed in the Superior Court of Justice subsequently amended in September 2021 contained allegations that contaminated soils were brought from two City of Hamilton Public Works projects to the soil fill site. The claim further alleged that two City staff members were complicit in the activities, leading to contaminated soil being illegally dumped at the soil fill site.

In a release Thursday the City noted, “Following these serious allegations, City representatives asked the plaintiffs on numerous occasions for evidence to substantiate their allegations but, to date, have not been provided with it. In the absence of assistance from the plaintiffs and in the interests of transparency and accountability, City Auditor Charles Brown hired Kroll to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the allegations.

The investigation, conducted over a period 10 months, has cost $292,000, to date, and involved a comprehensive review of the allegations including, but not limited to:

  • Interviewing individuals relevant to the allegations, including City staff and third parties.
  • Performing a forensic review of City and third-party records.
  • Reviewing and analyzing review of City staff member communication on City-owned devices
  • Performing public record searches on the relevant entities and individuals
  • Conducting social media research and using proprietary social media data analysis tools to analyze publicly accessible data posted on social media platforms
  • Review of personal information as required

The release says that Kroll found documentation indicating that persons responsible for the Havana Group Supplies Inc. accepted contaminated soils from various non-City sources. In the case of one of the City projects identified by the plaintiffs, some uncontaminated soil was transferred to the Waterdown Gardens property in accordance with City procedures and by agreement between the City contractor responsible for the worksite and persons responsible for the Havana Group Supplies Inc.

The investigation confirmed proper oversight of contractors on City projects hauling contaminated and hazardous soils and their required handling and treatment.

In the release City Manager Janette Smith said, “I am satisfied that the allegations against the City are unsubstantiated as well as those against its individual employees, who will be fully reinstated to their positions.”

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