Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Gord Downie have filed an 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.
The controversial incineration project is beginning to attract attention according to the opponents. Gord Downie, Lafarge’s closest neighbor, a member of the Tragically Hip, and a Trustee for Lake Ontario, helped Waterkeeper with its submission. Meanwhile, Sierra Legal Defence Fund agreed to help a prominent local group, the Loyalist Environmental Coalition.
The parties say they’re opposing the Bath Plant Alternative Fuel project because it’s "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 destination for municipal waste from Ontario, Quebec, and the United States, the group says. This will also be the first operational tire-burning cement kiln in Ontario.
The opponents say the project could have environmental and policy consequences; 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 group says that 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."