No clarity, no assurances
Is anything clearer about the proposed garbage incinerator for Litchfield, and is anyone assured that all is well in the world of rubbish burning following Warden Toller’s letter of October 25th?
As spokesperson of the mayors of the MRC, Warden Toller has only clarified for us that she is familiar with the poor performance of North American incinerators, urging us to look to Europe and particularly the Denmark facility. Clearly, she hasn’t done thorough research on that facility. We read the following in a report from Zero Waste Europe, November 2019, “A Danish Fiasco, The Copenhagen Waste Incineration Plant”.
“In conclusion, as a waste incineration project, ARC has been a technical and financial fiasco, characterised from the outset by poor judgment that ignored the advice of experts, and project management that contradicts the municipalities’ own waste management and climate plans. As a result, Copenhagen now has an incinerator plant that is double the size needed and that may need to import more and more foreign waste if it is to keep running. Given that it is financed through a 30-year loan, it is Danish taxpayers that will pay for the price of this waste.”
That the country of Denmark, the city of Copenhagen and the ARC Corporation who built and run the facility could not get it right provides no assurance.
A BBC report of 2019 states that 300 trucks a day go in and out of the facility. But then, Prefect Toller tells us they will “probably” be electric. She also tells us that the facility could send steam heat to the Shawville hospital, 25 kms away! Such assumptions lead to more questions needing clarification.
Warden Toller states that we “are obtaining important information so that we can properly evaluate whether this facility provides the best solution for residual waste and whether it will be economically viable.” We are not assured that the study will look at other viable means of dealing with our residual waste. We are concerned that it will be merely a business plan comparison between the cost of burning waste versus landfilling.
As the spokesperson for the MRC Mayors, Prefect Toller has created more concerns and little clarity or reassurance by her defence of the industry. Her actions and comments give the impression that the municipality is acting like a proponent clearly determined to pursue this venture.
Will the majority of MRC mayors make decisions based on good information, or will larger forces take control as did in Denmark? Are we heading for our own Copenhagen fiasco minus the pretty ski hill and climbing wall?
Linda Lafortune, Otter Lake
Please keep an open mind
I would like thank the residents who have encouraged the MRC Pontiac to pursue the opportunity for an energy from waste facility. They know that this possibility has been discussed since 2010 and that we have finally taken a step to develop a business plan. The research is international in scale sourced from Denmark, who are well-advanced with waste diversion from landfill. At the same time, we can learn about their success with recycling, composting, reuse and reduction of packaging.
I have been surprised by the bias against the idea of this facility by our local media. I believe every project deserves a fair chance and for the Pontiac to grow and develop and attract industry we need to keep an open mind. We are now at a preliminary stage. We will see what is recommended, and this information will be shared with everyone. We also will have a good length of time for public education and understanding of the potential project.
It is amazing how many people see themselves as “experts.” The truth is we lack expertise and that is why we are working with global experts who have had thirty-two years of experience. They currently are working on many projects. Two examples include an incinerator in Singapore (to process two million tons of annual waste) and another in Prince Edward Island with only fifty thousand tons annually.
I am concerned about the information flyer being presently circulated by Friends of the Pontiac. This new group spoke at our last Council meeting and provided us with their literature which indicates that they have limited understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. There are statements of danger to health and the environment that is speculation and fear-mongering. Then they ask residents to sign a petition. Their petition on change.org is national not just for the Pontiac. The same negative bias is expressed but the picture used shows billowing black smoke. There are no incinerators in the world today which could operate with emissions like that! I have written to them explaining the errors in their information and I have requested that they change their literature.
Please contact me if you have any concerns. I would be delighted to answer your questions and if I do not have the answers, I will find them for you.
Finally, I ask you to keep an open mind. I believe that we should seize every opportunity we have the chance to explore! Stay tuned!
Jane Toller, MRC Pontiac Warden
EDITORS NOTE: This newspaper has not taken issue with the end (many letter writers are doing that), but with the means being employed to achieve it. Public acceptance of the outcome, whatever it may be, depends on the credibility of the process.
If Ye Break Faith
Each year at this time we stop to reflect, to consider the staggering cost in human life that war exacts. We gather around our monuments on Remembrance Day, inscribed with the names of those who have served, and have died too young. What meaning can we find in doing so?
Once again I was asked to be part of one of these observances. Once more I recited the well-known John McCrae poem, In Flanders Fields. He writes as a soldier, though he was also a physician. In one memorable phrase he says, “If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep” This is a weighty responsibility surely.
But how shall we interpret it? Must we continue to take up arms against our fellow humans? Or as the Beatles well-known song asks, can we give peace a chance? Most of us would endorse this latter course without hesitation. And we do have weaponry, though not of a military nature.
We must use all the other means at our disposal in this “battle”. We must continue to write, to create art, to sing and to dance. Maybe we simply call a family member and talk. If we continue to contribute to our heritage of culture and learning, we may possibly swing the balance in our favor – and away from war and hatred. If we keep this faith, hopefully our dead will someday sleep. The poet would definitely approve.
William Smith, Bristol
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