On Friday, lawyers representing Loyalist Township residents, local landowners, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Trustee of Lake Ontario Gord Downie applied to the Environmental Review Tribunal for leave (permission) to appeal two environmental approvals issued to Lafarge Canada Inc.
The approvals, issued two weeks ago by the Ministry of the Environment, permit Lafarge to collect, store and burn various wastes â€“ including scrap tires, plastics, and meat and bone meal wastes â€“ as â€œalternative fuelsâ€ at its cement manufacturing plant at Bath, Ontario.
â€œThe Ministry's issuance of the two approvals is unreasonable and could cause significant environmental harm,â€ stated Robert Wright, senior counsel with Sierra Legal, which represents a local residents' coalition. â€Our independent experts have concluded that the proposal will pose serious risks to the environment and human health, particularly in relation to airborne contaminants.â€
â€œNo facilities in Ontario currently burn tires, and the Ministry has conceded that it has no experience monitoring the environmental performance of tire-burning facilities,â€ said Joe Castrilli, an environmental lawyer representing local landowners. â€œSince the Ministry has recently proposed a province-wide ban on tire-burning in Ontario, it is unreasonable to use local residents as guinea pigs in this ill-conceived experiment. â€œ
â€œTo date, the Ministry has refused to require Lafarge to prepare an environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act, and has issued the approvals without public hearings under the Environmental Protection Act,â€ declared Richard Lindgren, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), which represents Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Gord Downie. â€œTherefore, seeking leave to appeal under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) represents the last chance for this proposal to be scrutinized in public hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunalâ€.
It is anticipated that the Tribunal's decision on the EBR leave application may be made in approximately 30 days.