The long-awaited hearing into Lafarge Canada’s controversial proposal to burn tires, plastics and other waste in a 34-year old cement kiln near Kingston, Ontario has begun, despite last-ditch efforts by the company to derail the hearings.
Lafarge announced that it plans to challenge the validity of the hearing in court and asked the Environmental Review Tribunal not to proceed with the matter. The Environmental Review Tribunal hearing was scheduled to begin at the Loyalist Township Office (263 Main Street, Odessa).
Our clients are deeply offended by Lafarges last-minute maneuver to shut down the hearing, stated Rick Lindgren, staff lawyer with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and counsel for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Gord Downie. Our position is that the hearing should proceed despite Lafarges legal threat. We are unclear why Lafarge now wants to avoid public scrutiny of its approvals for waste burning.
Lafarges decision to challenge this hearing is outrageous," says Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. "Five months ago, our groups won the right to examine the impacts of alternative fuels so we can protect air, water, and people. Now, at the eleventh hour Lafarge, is trying to shut us down.
"The hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal are one of the few opportunities that the public has to provide input on what is happening at Bath. Given the health and environmental impacts at stake, it is critical that Lafarge does not succeed in scuttling this process," says Hugh Wilkins, staff lawyer with Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund).
Last December, Lafarge obtained approvals from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to burn import, store and burn scrap tires, plastics, and other waste at a cement manufacturing plant in Bath, Ontario. Clean Air Bath, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Loyalist Environmental Coalition, and the Tragically Hip each won the right to appeal Lafarge’s approvals in April, 2007. Their appeal is based on concerns about air and water pollution, public health and safety, and the appropriateness of the decision-making process.
The groups are represented by a team of prominent environmental lawyers. Rick Lindgren of the Canadian Environmental Law Association represents Lake Ontario Waterkeeper & Gord Downie. Joseph Castrilli represents The Tragically Hip. Hugh Wilkins of Ecojustice represents Loyalist Environmental Coalition.
The groups encourage members of the media and the Bath community to attend the hearing and follow the cases progress.