Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Gord Downie have filed our official submission to the Ministry of Environment, recommending that Lafarge's request to burn tires and other waste at its cement kiln in Bath be denied. Last month, Waterkeeper asked the government for more time to review the submissions, and the deadline for public comment was extended to April 2, 2006.
To read a copy of our submission, please visit our web site: www.waterkeeper.ca
The controversial incineration project is beginning to attract more attention. Gord Downie, Lafarge's closest neighbour, member of the Tragically Hip, and a Trustee for Lake Ontario helped Waterkeeper with our submission. Meanwhile, Sierra Legal Defence Fund agreed to help a prominent local group, the Loyalist Environmental Coalition.
Why all the fuss? Because the Bath Plant Alternative Fuel project is no ordinary alternative fuel project. Lafarge is offering to accept waste consisting of pellets, tires, plastics, etc. to help reduce its fuel costs. Its goal is to create a key destination for municipal waste from Ontario, Quebec, and the United States. This will also be the first operational tire-burning cement kiln in Ontario.
The project could have major environmental and policy consequences, yet the proponent has been negotiating with the Ministry of Environment to frame its project in a way that would avoid a mandatory public hearing. The Ministry of Environment's response to the Lafarge request will be a watershed moment in the fight to clean up Ontario's air and water. Whether the Ministry says, yes or no, we will soon know if Government of Ontario has learned from past mistakes if the law trumps profits in Ontario and if this province is serious about winning back the Great Lakes.
Some Ontarians believe that incinerating garbage and tires is a viable option. Most of these people also believe that incineration should be used to generate electricity for public consumption. The chance to debate this issue will be lost if the Ministry of Environment approves the Lafarge proposal on April 3.
Waterkeeper and Downie asked that the Ministry of Environment deny the permits, because the stakes are simply too high. We also suggested that if the Ministry of Environment is determined to approve this project, it first hold that mandatory hearing. We encourage you to read our submission and take time to understand the environmental and policy consequences that these two little permits could have.