As told by Ken Cressey, Jeanine’s husband
This is a story that chills your heart, not because it is particularly gruesome or terrifying but because it is true.
It could happen to you.
It is about a man and his wife who bought a house in Snow Road Station, North Frontenac, Ontario in March 2008.
When the couple bought the house, the field across the road was quiet with hills covered in snow. There was no evidence of activity, no signs or berms.
They did a lot of research before buying the house – they spoke to the daughter of the house owners; they spoke to the real estate agent. The land was zoned residential and located in a hamlet. According to zoning regulations, aggregate operations are not allowed in a hamlet.
They didn’t know the field across the road was a gravel pit and nobody told them.
The Cresseys moved into the house on April 20, 2008 and for the first 6 months the gravel pit was inactive. Then in October 2008 several trucks appeared to remove material from the site for two weeks.
The Cresseys went to the Township. When they had moved in to the house they had been told that there was only local traffic and cottagers. There had been no mention of trucks.
The Township spoke to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and were told that the site was fine. Mr. Cressey’s request for an environmental assessment was denied.
Mr. Cressey sent a letter to the MNR detailing the dust, lack of signs, lack of visible licence number, lack of berms or tree screens.
The couple spoke to the gravel pit owner (April 2009). They requested a berm be raised but the owner denied the request due to cost. So they asked for a screen of trees and he complied by planting saplings 2-3 feet tall. He agreed to use dust suppressants in the form of calcium or water, but it is debatable whether those measures were ever taken (Mr. Cressey says “no”).
At the end of April 2009, the site started to be worked regularly, Mrs. Cressey, Jeanine, started to cough. Ken took her to the doctor’s where she undertook x-rays and tests by a respirologist. Her cough became worse as time passed.
They were advised by their Medical Practitioner to move from their home because of Jeanine’s on-going coughing. They put their house up for sale on August 18, 2009.
Around that time, the gravel pit owner installed a crusher a mere 300 feet from the Cressey’s front door. According to Ken, “the noise was insane and the dust from the trucks and crushing were even more extreme”.
The couple called the Township again, requesting a visit from the by-law officer but they were refused. The Township stated that the pit could legally operate from 6am to 9pm and there was nothing that they could do.
Jeanine’s coughing got worse. She stayed inside the house with the windows closed, suffering the noise and dust.
The pit stopped operations for the winter in September 2009 but Jeanine was still coughing. At one time her coughing was so severe she had bruises on her stomach.
Jeanine died on October 25, 2009. She had never had any heart problems or breathing problems until the pit had started up operations in October, 2008. She was dead within a year of the start-up.
Since then Ken Cressey has been committed to getting acknowledgment from the government as to what happened to Jeanine, and he is determined to stop it from happening to someone else.
It took a letter to Premier McGuinty to get an investigation started.
David Arnott from the MOE stated that Ken’s situation should never have happened. The pit operator did not have a Certificate of Approval (CoA) to crush on site.
Mr. Cressey had a dust sample analyzed and found that the dust contained crystalline silica, a known and listed cancer agent. That dust was allowed by the pit owner to become airborne.
The MNR took responsibility for the case with the MOE in a supporting role. The MNR took the videos, photos and documents to remind the pit operator of his responsibility. The operator was charged with crushing without a CoA. On October 27, 2011 Wilbert Crain entered a plea of guilty on behalf of Crain’s Construction Limited and was fined $1,000. Link to transcript (File No. 110464 Ontario Court of Justice, Provincial Offences Court, Her Majesty the Queen vs Crain’s Construction Limited)
In a May 17, 2012 letter to Mr. Cressey, the Minister of Natural Resources, Michael Gravelle, states re: the licencing of the property in 2007 that the aggregate operator met all requirements of section 71 of the Aggregate Resources Act and the local municipality confirmed that the site complied with all relevant zoning bylaws. However, as at January 13, 2012 there was no approved and formal site plan.
On June 27, 2012, Mr. Ken Cressey spoke in front of the Standing Committee on General Government for their review of the Aggregate Resources Act. A copy of the transcript is here.
Mr. Cressey does not want sympathy. He wants a serious review of how aggregate operators are allowed to get away with illegal and wanton operation. He wants public safety and health to be taken into consideration under the Aggregate Resources Act. He doesn't want someone else to die in the senseless way that his wife, Jeanine, was taken. He wants his government representatives to take their responsibilities seriously.
Is that too much to ask?
In Memory of Jeanine Filiatreault Cressey (1944 – 2009)
In September 2016, Ken Cressey was diagnosed with lung cancer. The biopsy showed crystalline silica.
“On multiple times I have argued about the dust from this site only to be met with the MOE saying it falls under the responsibility of the MNR. The MNR in turn says it is the responsibility of the MOE.” Ken Cressey
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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled through private amateur research for the purpose of allowing the reader to make an informed and educated decision. However, while the information is believed to be reliable, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
Images of Mr. Ken Cressey’s letters from his blog at link: http://deathanddustmystory.blogspot.com/
"Health Canada is committed to maintaining and improving the health of Canadians ... Unfortunately, regarding your question about testing dust samples, Health Canada is not directly involved ...". "Health Canada has no regulations regarding management or mitigation of quarry dust..." Quotations from a letter from Health Canada to Mr. Ken Cressey, dated May 28, 2010, after the death of Mr. Cressey’s wife
In March 2008 Ken and Jeanine Cressey purchased a house in the hamlet of Snow Road Station, North Frontenac. It turned out there was an inactive gravel pit across the road despite the residential zoning. There were no signs, no berms, no screen of trees. In April 2009 when the pit started to be worked, there was dust. Jeanine started to cough. Day by day her cough worsened and her doctor advised them to move. They put their house up for sale in August. Then the pit operator installed a portable crusher 90 metres from the Cressey’s front door. According to Ken, “the noise was insane and the dust from the trucks and crushing were even more extreme”. Complaints to the Township, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) yielded no support with the latter two Ministries pointing to each other. The Cresseys were told that the pit could legally operate from 6am to 9pm and there was nothing that could be done. Jeanine’s coughing got worse. She stayed inside the house with the windows closed suffering the noise and dust. The pit stopped operations for the winter in September 2009 but Jeanine was still coughing. At one time her coughing was so severe she had bruises on her stomach. Jeanine died on October 25, 2009. She had never had any heart problems or breathing problems until the pit had started up operations. She was dead within a year of the start-up. Finally, the MNR took responsibility for the case with the MOE in a supporting role. The MNR took Ken’s videos, photos and documents to remind the pit operator of his responsibility. The operator was charged with crushing without a Certificate of Approval (CoA). On October 27, 2011, Wilbert Crain entered a plea of guilty on behalf of Crain’s Construction Limited and was fined $1,000.