1. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper strongly opposes Waste Diversion Ontario's Scrap Tire Diversion Program Plan because it endorses incineration of tires as a legitimate method of scrap tire disposal. Our opposition to the Plan is based on the three concerns outlined below.
A. The Plan contravenes the Ontario Waste Diversion Act of 2002.
2. Section 25.(2) 1. of the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 clearly states that, ?A waste diversion program developed under this Act for a designated waste shall not promote ? The burning of the designated waste.? The Plan is the ?waste diversion program? and Ontario Regulation 84/03 confirms that tires are a designated waste.
3. The Plan promotes the burning of tires in numerous ways. First, tire burning (or, ?Tire Derived Fuel?) is included as one of the key components of the overall Plan, which proposes financial incentives for these end uses: Ground Rubber ($100-120/ metric tonne), Fabricated Products ($60/ metric tonne), Tire Shred ($50/ metric tonne), and TDF ($40/ metric tonne). (Appendix 25) Second, the Plan argues that it will only achieve its goals if there is tire burning in Ontario: ?There will still not be sufficient additional capacity to recycle scrap tires generated in Ontario (plus stockpile abatement) within the province without considering the use of tire derived fuel applications for the excess.? (p. 43; see also Appendix 10, etc.) Third, the Ontario Tire Stewardship clearly gives precedent to tire burning over other end-uses: ?Question: Does this mean that OTS advocates more uses as fuel in order to eliminate existing stockpiles before proceeding to higher value initiatives such as mats? Answer: Yes.? (p. 129)
4. Waterkeeper is gravely concerned by the way the Plan positions tire burning as a legitimate method of (1) ?recycling? used tires and (2) creating alternative fuel sources. The very serious environmental and human health impacts of tire burning far outweigh the dubious benefits of subsidizing polluters in Ontario.
B. The Plan to burn tires will have negative impacts on human and aquatic health, especially on Eastern Lake Ontario.
5. The Plan clearly articulates how Ontario?s cement industry will benefit the most from the proposal to burn tires for fuel. (See C) Waterkeeper notes that those facilities which stand to benefit most are located on eastern Lake Ontario: Essroc Italcementi Group in Picton already has a Certificate of Approval to burn tires, and Lafarge Cement in Bath has applied for a Certificate of Approval to burn tires. Thus, the communities which stand to be affected the most are the communities located downwind on eastern Lake Ontario.
6. There are four kinds of polluting air emissions which will pose a threat to residents living downwind of plants burning tires: dioxins and furans, volatiles, metals, and particulates.
7. Burning tires create dioxins and furans, which are released into the air. Humans who are exposed to dioxins may suffer from reproductive problems, suppression of the immune system, or increased risk of cancer. Dioxins can also settle in sediments and be ingested by fish or other aquatic life. Dioxins build up in the food chain, can cause cancer in animals, and may affect people who eat contaminated fish or fowl. The World Health Organization calls dioxins the worst known human carcinogens. Further, there are currently consumption advisories on fish across Lake Ontario because of dioxin and furan contamination. Tests conducted in California suggest that dioxin and furan pollution on Lake Ontario will increase if the province allows tire burning: When tires were burned in cement kilns in California, dioxin and furan emissions increased by between 53% and 100% in every test.
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) increased dramatically in three of four of those same tests: between 296% and 2,230%. PAHs are carcinogenic to humans and cause reproductive problems in animals. Humans can be exposed by breathing PAHs or by eating fish or fowl that have become contaminated by breathing or ingesting them.
9. The Ontario Tire Stewardship includes one environmental impact study in the Plan. This study examines only the release of heavy metals into the air when switching from coal to TDF in cement manufacturing. Even this limited analysis clearly shows that burning tires at Ontario?s cement plants will have serious consequences for our communities. According to the study, emissions of copper, chromium, manganese, nickel, lead, antimony, vanadium, and zinc increase when tires are burned. Of the thirteen metals listed, the study claims only that arsenic, mercury, and thallium releases are reduced when cement manufacturers burn tires. The metal emissions which increase can cause a range of human health problems, including heart disease, kidney damage, memory loss, and breathing problems. Metals also accumulate in the aquatic ecosystem; they can already be found in fish around Lake Ontario.
10. The study also demonstrates that particulate emissions increase dramatically when cement manufacturers burn tires. Particulates are fine particles that travel through the air and, when breathed by humans, can cause respiratory problems, aggravate asthma and allergies, and increase cardiovascular problems. Waterkeeper is concerned that these particulate emissions represent one of the most serious threats to human health posed by the Plan. The EPA estimates that some 60,000 U.S. residents and as many as 10,000 residents of the U.K. die each year from breathing particulates. Toxic chemicals and metals can travel as particulates, contaminating the natural ecosystem many kilometers downstream from the cement plants. This is especially concerning, given that Lake Ontario?s remaining commercial fisheries are within the range of the plumes of both Essroc and Lafarge.
11. There is concern that the air emissions that would result from tire burning at cement plants would have especially negative impacts on young people living downwind. A study at a tire-burning cement plant in England showed that 3% of children ages 8-9 attending school upwind of the facility used inhalers, compared to 22% of children the same age attending school downwind. Children breathe 50% more air than adults do, per pound of body weight. Exposure to fine particulates and other sources of air pollution thus have a dramatic impact on their developing respiratory systems.
C. The Plan articulates reasons for tire burning that are misleading and/or disingenuous.
12. Despite the environmental and health hazards of tire burning, the Ontario Tire Stewardship Plan promotes burning tires in Ontario. Waterkeeper is concerned that this endorsement is a short-sighted attempt to subsidize the cement industry at the expense of our health and natural resources. The Plan clearly seeks to promote the interests of the cement manufacturing industry, which would reduce its fuel costs by accessing a new, cheap fuel source, receive a minimum $1-million dollar guaranteed service fee (p. 106), and insulate itself from rubberized-asphalt competition. The Plan explicitly states that one of the reasons tire burning is being promoted over other end-uses such as rubberized asphalt is because of pressure from the cement industry: ?The cement industry will not support market development for rubberized asphalt, as it is direct competition to the concrete road base market.? (p. 112)
13. This kind of bias is a discredit to the Environmental Bill of Rights process. The Plan has not been approved by government. Lafarge has not yet received any approval to burn tires. Essroc does not currently have the facilities in place to burn tires. The Waste Diversion Act discourages burning tires. Yet, the Plan suggests that tire-burning in Ontario is a fait accompli, stating that Lafarge will be burning tires within 18 months of receiving its approval ? there is no consideration that the approval might never be granted. (p. 177)
14. The Plan also contains misleading statements. For example, it declares that, ?TDF has been used successfully in other jurisdictions to eliminate stockpile,? (p. 11) but overlooks numerous international studies that have identified and quantified the serious impacts of tire burning at these facilities. Further, the Plan explicitly encourages ?spin? to help greenwash tire burning, emphasizing the reduced NOx and while ignoring increases in dioxins and furans, PAHs, metals, and particulates. The study it relies on erroneously suggests that particulate emissions are safer than gaseous emissions. Further, the Plan advocates the use of terms like ?service fee? instead of ?subsidy? and ?used? instead of ?scrap? which would influence people?s perceptions of the proposal. Even the tagline on the Plan?s cover suggests that the recommendations it contains represent the interests of the public rather than the interests of industry: ?Recycling Tires to Benefit Ontario.?
15. One of the purposes of the Plan is clearly to create and protect Ontario markets for used tires. Unfortunately, this plan merely transplants the market for Tire Derived Fuel from the United States to Ontario. Currently, 50% of Ontario?s tires are sent to the United States for landfilling or burning. Environmental concerns from U.S. communities are forcing U.S. legislators to tighten environmental controls, thus jeopardizing Ontario?s current arrangement. The Ontario Tire Stewardship makes references to these changes on pages 24 and 29. It is not at all clear that the Plan will address Ontario?s scrap tire problem. Rather, it appears to be a desperate attempt to find a new solution to improved environmental protection in the United States. With the closing of U.S. markets, Ontario must find an end-market for 50% of its used tires before it can even begin to increase recycling levels or address stockpiles.
16. In conclusion, Waterkeeper strongly believes that responding to improved environmental controls in the United States by lowering environmental protections in Ontario is the worst possible solution. We urge the Minister of Environment to reject any Plan that includes the burning of tires.