Sludge not coming here
Sarnia-Lambton residents who fought the importation of hazardous waste from
Nova Scotia -- the so-called toxic sludge -- are savouring victory today.
Officials have acknowledged the contaminated material from a Domtar holding
tank near the Sydney tar ponds has been shipped to an incinerator in Quebec,
ending a controversy that's simmered for nearly two years.
"That's great. I'm really happy it's not coming here and I think everyone
else is," said Harry Rainsberry, a member of the citizen group People's
Organization Wanting Environmental Responsibility.
POWER and other opponents came together after The Observer reported in
November of 2002 that a $3.6-million contract had been signed to import up
to 3,800 tonnes of hazardous waste.
Backed by MPP Caroline Di Cocco, POWER handed out thousands of "Stop the
Toxic Sludge" signs and staged protests at the gate of the Safety-Kleen (now
Clean Harbors) landfill near Brigden.
They didn't let up even after it became apparent the sand and gravel
contaminated with coal tar was less hazardous than much of what Clean
Parker Donham, a spokesperson with the co-ordinating Sydney Tar Ponds
Agency, acknowledge Sarnia's opposition forced the change in plans.
"Because of the tar ponds label that was falsely put upon it, people in
Sarnia really got up in arms about it," Donham said.
"In part, I think Caroline Di Cocco misled them. I think she was happy to
have people believe that it was tar ponds material when it was not."
Di Cocco said this morning the local fight forced Nova Scotia officials to
realize that shipping hazardous waste across the country is not a good idea.
"Of course he's upset," she said of Donham's criticism. "It made it more
expensive and it made it more difficult for them. I've often said, public
support and political will can move mountains, and in this case we stopped
Di Cocco said the sludge saga focused attention on regulations that make it
economical to transport untreated hazardous waste to Ontario for
The Liberal government will be announcing new regulations shortly that
require pre-treatment, she said.
Although pleased by the victory, Rainsberry said he won't rest until both
the landfill and incinerator at Clean Harbors are shut down.
"That plume was blowing right over Sarnia (on Thursday)," he said. "They
shouldn't be bringing that crap here. I just can't understand it."