Fight is not over

Nova Sco­tia plant will burn tires as fuel

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

Ly­dia Sor­flaten flips through decade-old clip­pings show­ing how she and her neigh­bours stopped a nearby ce­ment plant from burn­ing tires at a kiln 500 me­tres from their tran­quil Nova Sco­tia lake.

But there’s a news re­port on top of the pile from ear­lier this month that con­firms their fight isn’t over.

“It’s very dis­cour­ag­ing,” the 72-year-old says as she sits at neigh­bour Ken War­ren’s din­ing room ta­ble, stacks of stud­ies piled high.

“The peo­ple spoke. Where’s the mem­ory? How is this hap­pen­ing again?”

The provin­cial En­vi­ron­ment De­part­ment re­cently ap­proved a one-year pi­lot project that will al­low La­farge Canada Inc. to use scrap tires for fuel in its Brook­field, N.S., fac­tory.

Just weeks ear­lier, the prov­ince’s waste di­ver­sion cor­po­ra­tion, Di­vert NS, also con­firmed it’s shift­ing dis­tri­bu­tion of at least 280,000 scrap tires a year from a re­cy­cler to La­farge, a French multi­na­tional that will re­ceive a provin­cial sub­sidy of about $1.05 per tire.

The two de­ci­sions have reignited a dor­mant Cana­dian de­bate over the safety of the emis­sions from tire burn­ing and the wis­dom of in­cin­er­at­ing rub­ber for in­dus­trial fu­els, rather than re­cy­cling a spent prod­uct.

The La­farge plant is a few min­utes drive from Sor­flaten’s home. In­side, man­ager Fred­eric Bolduc says he ex­pects test re­sults will show burn­ing tires in the kiln will pro­duce fewer green­house gases and pol­lu­tants than burn­ing coal and petroleum coke.

Dur­ing a tour of the ce­ment plant, he points to the kiln where air tem­per­a­tures ex­ceed­ing 2000 C trans­form pow­dered stone into molten rock.

“From our ex­pe­ri­ence, air (pol­lu­tion) emis­sions are lower than from other fu­els we’re us­ing,” says the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer.

How­ever, tire burn­ing was dealt a blow a decade ago by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups ar­gu­ing the op­po­site.

In 2008, a La­farge pro­posal sim­i­lar to the one for Brook­field was met with stiff op­po­si­tion from the res­i­dents of Bath, Ont., in­clud­ing the rock band Trag­i­cally Hip and lead singer Gord Downie. La­farge backed down af­ter los­ing a le­gal bat­tle.

And just last year, On­tario passed a reg­u­la­tion bluntly stat­ing the prov­ince’s waste di­ver­sion pro­gram “shall not pro­mote” tire burn­ing.

In Nova Sco­tia, op­po­si­tion to tire in­cin­er­a­tion led to a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill from the then-op­po­si­tion Lib­er­als that would have banned the prac­tice in 2008. How­ever, the leg­is­la­tion was never pro­claimed law.

In Al­berta, Man­i­toba, Yukon and New Brunswick, there is cur­rently no burn­ing of scrap tires, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Tire Re­cy­cling Agen­cies.

Mean­while, in Bri­tish Columbia, tire burn­ing has de­clined since 1991, from 75 per cent of the to­tal num­ber of scrap tires to just 13 per cent to­day, ac­cord­ing to Rose­mary Sut­ton, di­rec­tor of Tire Stew­ard­ship B.C.

CP PHOTO

Mike Chas­sie, vice-pres­i­dent of Hal­i­fax C & D Re­cy­cling Ltd., is seen at the com­pany fa­cil­ity in Goodwood, N.S. re­cently. The com­pany re­cy­cles tires that are used in var­i­ous con­struc­tion ap­pli­ca­tions and Chas­sie fears that La­farge Canada’s year-long pi­lot project to burn tires as fuel for the kiln at its Brook­field ce­ment plant would jeop­ar­dize their sup­ply.

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