As reported recently by the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) and reported in an earlier blog post by Guy Crittenden, the issue of Canadian waste entering may be heating up again.
As they are want to do, the Americans have wrapped themselves in their flag of national security citing concerns with the potential radioactivity of our wastes crossing the border- a truly dirty bomb they must imagine. Currently less than 1% of our wastes are checked for radioactivity.
The succinct “Stop Canadian Trash Act” proposes a $500 fee per truck to cover off Homeland Security costs and would impose a $10,000 penalty each time an operator failed to provide the U.S. Customs and Border Protection information relating to the volume and contents of each vehicle.
Quite frankly it sounds like a creative approach to protectionism or some misguided attempt to stifle commerce. Regardless of what it is we should take it seriously. Previous efforts have pretty much halted Ontario’s residential waste crossing the border.
What would Ontario do if Michigan shut the border tomorrow?
Is there a Plan B? Perhaps every available landfill with available space would find themselves with Emergency Certificates of Approval, voluntary or otherwise, to deal with the wastes. Waste disposal would become expensive quickly.
A simple question: Why does Ontario allow itself to outsource out so much of its waste disposal capacity to another country? There has been a lack of planning and political will to ensure there is sufficient disposal capacity in this province. My fellow blogger Gordon McGuinty is much more elegant in that regard www.trashedpoliticalgarbage.com.
It is a problem that needs to be addressed. We should have sufficient domestic capacity to manage our own wastes so we don’t have to rely on others. From a pragmatic perspective if we assume that 4 million tonnes of IC&I waste continue to cross the border and we ascribe a US tipping fee of $30/tonne we are letting $120 million slip across the border each year.
If the US does not want our commerce why don’t we find a way to keep those revenues in this province?