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PCN Incineration Campaign Update

By Linda Gasser

Durham-York Incinerator, Ontario

Ministry of the Environment grants operating permit approvals

After the Minister of the Environment granted Environmental Assessment approval in November 2010, the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) staff – on June 28, 2011 – approved the operating permits (Certificates of Approval) for the proposed Durham-York incinerator. Approval was granted a mere nineteen days after the close of the public comment period. Please read our media release and concerns about this project setting an undesirable precedent, especially since the MoE has set the bar low and did not require continuous monitoring for several contaminants that their own A-7 Guideline suggest for consideration, such as particulate matter.

Durham special council meeting July 26, 2011 – Durham council votes to move forward

Having received provincial approvals, the only thing stopping Covanta from building the garbage incinerator was the Durham Region council vote to adopt the Co-Owners’ agreement with York. If approved, that agreement would delegate authority to staff to issue the “Notice to Proceed” to construction.

On June 29th, in a 15-13 vote, citizens convinced councillors to ask for details about the permit approvals and to request an update from Durham’s Medical Officer of Health around health risks from increased emissions. Durham staff tapped the same consultants – Stantec -who have since admitted to errors in their 2009 studies, for a limited risk assessment update, to update and review their earlier work.

On July 26th, in a 16-7 vote, Durham councillors adopted the Co-owners’ Agreement. Citizen delegates reminded councillors they did not even know the final cost of the incinerator and disputed the validity of the updated risk assessment conclusions.

Staff had not implemented council commitments for state of the art emissions monitoring, however pleas to councillors to make good on these earlier promises fell on deaf ears. The majority of Durham councillors appeared to be more concerned about the costs of delaying Covanta’s plans to start construction this fall than they were in keeping their commitments to protect public health and safety.

In a vote that stunned everyone in the gallery, Clarington’s (the host community) mayor and regional councilor, both of whom ran on an anti-incinerator platform and defeated pro-incinerator incumbents in the October 2010 municipal election, flipped and voted to adopt the Co-owners agreement, which was the last hurdle for Covanta. This vote was all the more surprising because Durham Region took no steps to address the monitoring requests in a recent Clarington Council resolution.

Durham Citizens fight back

Last term, through a Host Community Agreement (HCA), the majority of Durham Region and Clarington councillors agreed to circumvent the public planning process to rezone the site in question to accommodate the proposed incinerator. Four of seven Clarington councillors agreed to this, though there was no public consultation on the HCA with Clarington residents.
Citizens took out full page advertisements in local media last October to advise voters about the councillors’ voting records on the incinerator. Two Clarington incumbents, including Clarington’s former mayor, were soundly defeated at the polls in last October’s municipal election, as were several regional politicians who supported incineration.

This term, two new Clarington councillors who are also lawyers, attempted to convince their current council to review the HCA. However, when Durham Region’s lawyer sent the Municipality a threatening letter, Clarington council rescinded their motion and has been flip-flopping since. Citizens picked up the fight where both municipalities failed the public.

Burning issues in British Columbia

Province Approves Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Management Plan

Yesterday, the BC Minister of the Environment had approved Metro’s controversial Solid Waste Management Plan which includes burning garbage as a disposal option.

Please visit our incineration updates and articles page to see a number of local media releases and news articles following yesterday’s plan approval, including community reactions.

A recent article describes the health effects of particulate matter “Metro Vancouver’s proposed incinerator might have a nanopollution problem.”

Capital Region District

B.C.’s Capital Region District appears to have been pitched incineration as an option to consider. Citizens need to get involved early and often and must educate themselves and decision makers as to why burning garbage would be a poor choice for any community.

North Okanagan

A mega-million waste to energy plant is being pitched to a North Okanagan community. A $100-to-$200 million plant would be located on private land in Spallumcheen, owned by a Splats’in First Nation member.

BC residents could contact Zero Waste BC, an information network of citizens and organizations, and Zero Waste Vancouver.

Citizens everywhere need to educate themselves so they can identify the myths spouted by incinerator salesmen for what they are. A great place to get the facts is our tool kit as well as a recent document by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Linda Gasser is Prevent Cancer Now’s Incineration Campaign Coordinator

Visit our Incineration Campign webpage for more information

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