On October 11, the City of Toronto approved a deal to ship approximately 1.3 million tonnes of its garbage annually for 20 years to the Adams Mine landfill near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Rail*Cycle*North (RCN), the consortium behind the landfill project, won a license from the provincial environment ministry last year and negotiated a contract with the city this summer. Critics have since said that there’s evidence that the walls of the former open-pit mine leak. On September 19, Liberal MPP David Ramsay and former provincial geologist Larry Jensen released geotechnical reports that warned of deep cracks in the bedrock. The reports are the centerpiece of an appeal to federal Environment Minister David Anderson. The deal will be terminated if the federal government decides to conduct an environmental assessment before February 15, 2001. A weeklong debate held by Toronto City Council saw more than 100 Kirkland residents protest at council chambers, and several more formed a railway blockade in their hometown. Timiskaming First Nation Grand Chief Carol McBride promises an uprising “bigger than Oka” if Toronto ships its garbage north. Meanwhile, Ontario Minister of Environment Dan Newman assured the public and opponents of the project that all precautions have been taken, including environmental assessment hearings and a judicial review. As well as environment and health concerns, critics say that the politics of the deal are also suspect. Of particular concern is a clause that would saddle Toronto taxpayers with any cost increase resulting from changes in laws affecting the project. Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman has been accused of ushering through the deal without proper public consultation. There is also suspicion over the preference for the RCN consortium (which includes Waste Management Inc.) over the cheaper offer of Republic Services Inc. to haul the garbage to Michigan for the price of $50.82 a tonne. RCN, which will collect $51.02 per tonne, has until January 2004 to ready the site.
For background info., see the editorial in the August/September edition. For more current info., see www.ene.gov. on.ca, www.railcyclenorth.com, www. ecolog.com or call Angelos Bacopoulos at 416-392-8301. Also see the December/January edition for further coverage.