A proposal to burn tyres at an eastern Ontario cement plant to create fuel is a safe one, company executives say, but environmentalists call it a hazardous idea that would poison the air over both Canada and the United States. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund is accusing the provincial government of refusing to launch a full environmental assessment of the proposal by Lafarge Canada, a subsidiary of the world’s biggest cement producer, to burn waste at its cement plant in Bath, Ontario, near Kingston.
The Lafarge proposal involves burning trash, tyres in particular, to produce an alternative fuel that could help power its cement operations at the site. However, Environment Minister Laurel Broten said a 30-day period for public feedback has only just ended and the ministry is still reviewing Lafarge’s submission, as well as concerns written to the ministry from community and environmental groups. "On a basis of a full examination of all of the information, and the science, then a determination will be made as to whether this should go ahead or not,’’ Broten said.
Lafarge Canada’s resource recovery manager, Rob Cumming, said the proposal was first launched two years ago. Cumming said the idea of creating fuel by burning trash has been around for three decades and is already being used in 22 American states, including California, as well as Quebec and British Columbia.
But Sierra maintains that a Lafarge site in St. Constant, Quebec, where tyres are already burned for fuel, is to blame for a significant increase in toxic air pollutants in that province. "The burning of used tyres for fuel is at best controversial,’’ the group states in a letter to Ontario’s Environment Ministry, also noting that the Bath site’s proximity to the United States "would result in significant trans-boundary environmental impacts.’’
Sierra lawyer Christine Elwell said the proposal also appears to violate Ontario’s waste diversion laws because it involves burning tyres that are otherwise recyclable. "The Lafarge proposal is going clearly against an alternative environmentally sound thing to do with used tyres,’’ Elwell said. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record)