Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – May 22, 2024

Highway help

Dear Editor,
I would like to thank everyone who stopped along Hwy 148 on Sunday of the long weekend to offer help when my car overheated.
I especially would like to thank J.S. (Jean Sebastien) of Bristol. He stopped and provided me with antifreeze and water and would not accept any payment.
The Pontiac is a wonderful place to live with so many great and helpful people.

Bart Stanley, Quyon

No bad dogs

Dear Editor,
MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors was precipitous when it voted last week to abandon completely its consideration of energy-from-waste (EFW) and to instead opt for a “zero-waste strategy” to (they hope) divert a significant portion of MRC Pontiac’s municipal solid waste (MSW) from landfills (by reducing the amount of MSW generated and by improving rates of recycling and composting).
Yes, incineration systems have a deservedly bad reputation arising from the poor fashion in which they were operated in the past (incineration systems are like dogs: There are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners).
But the fact remains that plastics and other organic MSW can be safely converted to energy via EFW systems, and such systems should therefore be considered as part of MRC Pontiac’s strategy to divert a significant portion of its MSW from landfills.

James Steeves, Ottawa

Waste won’t just disappear

Dear Editor,
I attended the last MRC council meeting to thank the warden and council for studying energy-from-waste as a solution for our residual waste problem. I also said that zero waste is just an aspiration and will not prevent us from still sending at least 50 per cent of our waste to landfill. Landfill is the worst contributer to climate change.
I have made the following observations:
The same people attended all of the anti-incineration meetings. The same people wrote three and four letters to the editor. This same group went door-to-door obtaining signatures for a petition where residents were only hearing that the incinerator was going to cause cancer in everyone and that the warden was the one pushing it.
The fact that after eight months there were fewer than 4000 signatures (73 per cent from Pontiac residents) . . . that is only 16 per cent of the population. The fact that the five town hall meetings drew only 350 people says that if people in the Pontiac were really worried we would have had thousands of people out expressing themselves.
Many of my friends cannot believe that most councils rescinded their support because of the constant bullying by these special interest groups who were threatening to not re-elect them.
This great opportunity was never given a chance and when we hear that another community will be moving forward with energy-from-waste we will realize that we could have had the first opportunity.
Most of our local media opposed the plan and, in my opinion, they should have remained neutral.
Finally, why was our warden targeted so strongly? Why did it become so personal? The letters to the editor could have discussed the pros and cons of the technology but instead they attacked our warden with character defamation. At least she had the courage to explore a project that has been talked about for a long time and could have benefitted us economically and environmentally.
We can never do too much research and I hope that we will continue to do so on a problem that will not just disappear.

Louise Laroche, Mansfield

Not a cement-head

Dear Editor,
At the Pontiac MRC meeting on May 15, Warden Toller’s 400,000-ton incinerator scheme for the Pontiac came crashing down. But maybe not entirely. In a deft last-minute amendment to the motion that would have killed the dream completely and instructed the MRC Pontiac to pursue other options, Mayor Corey Spence of Allumette Island introduced some political sleight-of-hand that opens the door to selling the incinerator idea to other MRCs in the Outaouais. While the amendment didn’t sound overly sinister, it was introduced and passed quickly, and I wonder if the mayors present had time to assess all of its ramifications. They seemed just happy that the immediate threat of an incinerator in the Pontiac was over.
In fact, the warden assured the capacity crowd in the chamber that it was over, and she wouldn’t even think of defying the incinerator stop-motion for the Pontiac. She stated that she’s not a ‘cement-head’ after all. She really knows how to turn a phrase.
Well, surprise! In the Ottawa Citizen, just a couple of days later, the warden is quoted as saying, “we’ll see if there is another part of the Outaouais that would like to locate a facility like this.” So, in spite of being told in no uncertain terms by Pontiac taxpayers to ‘lay off’ the incinerator bandwagon, it seems that our one-trick-pony has no intention of giving up on her dream. It really makes you wonder why . . .
Let’s hope that the other MRCs in the region have been paying attention to what’s been going on in the Pontiac over the past year with Calamity Jane and her faithful sidekick, Corey. If they have, they should know enough to steer clear of her incinerator sales pitch.
After all, they aren’t cement-heads.

Gerry Bimm, Otter Lake

Baby steps to zero-waste

Dear Editor,
The decision on the incinerator has been made, it’s in the rear view now. Going forward, how can we get to a zero-waste future or start sending much less to the transfer stations?
The lowest-hanging fruit is separating food waste from plastic waste. To those of you already doing this: thank you. You are part of the change that is securing a good future for our children.
To those of you not there yet, what two things would you need to get this happening in your household?
Are the grocery stores in Pontiac separating food waste from plastic and composting it? If not, what would be two things that would help that happen?
At the transfer stations, is there professional help and funding available to have a composting station and set up a free store where items no longer needed can be dropped off and picked up for free by anyone who can use them?
Change is hard it can seem like sacrifice, but consumerism isn’t that satisfying when we’re left with tonnes of garbage in its wake.
We can help each other through this transition.

Leila Nulty, Thorne

Radioactive waste

management

Dear Editor,
We are writing to alert your readers to what we see as a crisis of radioactive waste mismanagement in the Ottawa River watershed. Components of the crisis include:

  • A giant, above-ground landfill for one million tons of radioactive waste at Chalk River Laboratories, less than one kilometer from the Ottawa River. According to the licensed inventory for the facility, more than half of the radionuclides are long-lived, with half-lives exceeding the design life of the facility by thousands of years. Experts say the waste is “intermediate level” and should be stored underground.The facility is expected to leak radioactive contaminants during operation and break down due to erosion after a few hundred years.
  • A proposal to entomb “in situ” a defunct nuclear reactor less than 400 meters from the Ottawa River at Rolphton, Ontario. The proposal flouts international safety standards that say entombment should not be used except in emergencies.
  • A multinational private sector consortium is transporting all federal radioactive wastes, including high level irradiated fuel waste, to Chalk River. These imports are occurring despite an explicit request by the City of Ottawa in 2021 for cessation of radioactive waste imports to the Ottawa valley which is seismically-active and a poor location for long-term storage of radioactive waste.
  • All of the above is taking place despite the opposition of the Algonquin People on whose unceded territory the Chalk River Laboratories and defunct Rolphton reactor are located. This contravenes Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

In our view, this crisis is a direct result of Canada’s inadequate nuclear governance regime under which almost all aspects of nuclear governance are entrusted to one agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is widely perceived to be captured by the nuclear industry and to promote the projects it is supposed to regulate. Other problems include conflicts of interest, lack of checks and balances, and an inadequate nuclear waste policy.
Despite repeated resolutions of concern by the Assembly of First Nations and more than 140 downstream municipalities — including Ottawa, Gatineau, and Montreal — the current government appears unwilling or unable to take meaningful action to address this crisis. We are therefore appealing to the International Atomic Energy Agency and requesting a meeting with its peer review team that is scheduled to visit Canada next month.

Chief Lance Haymond, Kebaowek First Nation
Gordon Edwards, PhD, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Ole Hendrickson, PhD, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

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