I have been waiting a week or so to gather my thoughts on this one.
The McGuinty Government has just approved the construction of a garbage incinerator in Durham Region, just east of the City of Toronto. – WITHOUT A PUBLIC HEARING!
The Region of Durham had originally made the commitment to dispose of their garbage at the Adams Mine, near Kirkland Lake, as part of a 20 year tender awarded to Rail Cycle North, a consortium that included Waste Management, Miller Waste, CN Rail, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the owner of the site, Notre Development.
Politics, as detailed in my book TRASHED, derailed the contract which would have looked after GTA municipal waste for 20 years at a price of approximately $54.00 per tonne, including transportation.
In 2004, with over 3.5 million tonnes of garbage going to Michigan from Ontario, the Regions still had no solution so we moved to begin construction of the site. The McGuinty government intervened and revoked the Certificate of Approval and killed the Adams Mine landfill. The Regions were left with no options other than exporting their waste to the USA for disposal; hence the incinerator.
Now, let’s be clear. I am not saying that the proposed incinerator (or, let’s be politically correct — the Energy From Waste plant) is unsafe. All solutions have some environmental issues that must be mitigated, however, EFW is a recognized solution in many parts of the world.
However, where is the normal independent due diligence that a project of this size is always subjected to.
McGuinty approved this project because he had to. Ontario is still shipping 4 million tonnes of municipal and commercial waste to the USA. Toronto (a part of the GTA) with the province made a commitment to stop shipping municipal waste to Michigan by the end of 2010. In reality, the Regions of York (a partner in the plant) and Durham are part of that commitment.
And what about the cost? Well, that’s another story. I understand the plant will be owned by the Region but built and operated by the private sector. It will have a capacity of 140,000 tonnes per year and the construction cost will be $240 million dollars. That’s TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. Yes, there will be hydro generated and a contract with Ontario Power Generation will provide some revenue. But, never in a million years will the cost to the taxpayer be as low as the option provided at the Adams Mine at $54 a tonne. It’s important to note that no public investment or taxpayer dollars were required for that option.
If all costs are factored in, I would bet that the disposal at the incinerator will exceed $100 per tonne and, as with any incinerator, they will still need a landfill for 20 to 30 percent of the ash generated by the operations.
In 2004, McGuinty had the audacity to eliminate a major disposal option for Ontario’s waste management crisis even after the Adams Mine landfill had undergone an independent environmental assessment hearing prior to receiving its Certificate of Approval.
To illustrate how the McGuinty government has defied common sense on this issue, it was the Harris government, the one supposedly soft on environmental issues, that demanded the independent hearing on the Adams Mine landfill. Now, in 2010, McGuinty approves an incinerator and will issue a Certificate of Approval, without a public hearing.
The man and his government are making it up as they go along! It’s a hell of a way to manage environmental risk.
P.S. Congratulations to Roger Anderson, Chairman of Durham Region, for having the political will to get this project to the approval stage.
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump