Priority Put On Waste

Timeline to stop Sydney shipment worries MPP
The Observer
Oct. 18, 2003

George Mathewson

Caroline Di Cocco's first priority in government will be to overhaul the rules that make Lambton County a "dumping ground" for hazardous waste.

But whether that can be done in time to stop shipments of so-called toxic sludge from being buried at the Clean Harbors landfill near Brigden isn't clear, the MPP for Sarnia- Lambton said Thursday. "Right now we don't have the rules that protect us from being a dumping ground. But I don't know (if there's enough time). We're in a suspended period right now."

A $3.6-million project to import up to 3,800 tonnes of hazardous waste from a Domtar holding tank near Sydney, N.S. is far behind schedule. The first shipments are expected to arrive in January.

Speculation out of Queen's Park suggests Di Cocco may be elevated to a cabinet position - possibly the environment portfolio - in Dalton McGuinty's new government. McGuinty visited the riding frequently and backed Di Cocco when she spoke out against Clean Harbors and the coal-fired Lambton Generating Station on environmental grounds.

Di Cocco said she doesn't know if she'll be the area's first minister since the NDP's Bob Huget a decade ago. "You hear all kinds of talk, but you don't know. You just don't know," she said. Di Cocco said regardless of her position she will push for pre-treatment rules to render hazardous waste inert before disposal.

She will also oppose any expansion of Clean Harbors unless it's needed to handle waste generated by local industry, she said. "I know we're going to need some type of facility to deal with our own hazardous waste, but I wouldn't bet on any large expansion soon."

The Clean Harbors landfill is expected to be full in three years at cunent tipping rates. The company applied to the Environment Ministry in July to recover 600,000 cubic metres of capacity lost when one cell was permanently closed after it developed an in-flowing leak of water and gas.

Spokesperson Ken Hall said the company has been discussing pre-treatment options with the Environment Ministry for three years now and welcomes the chance to provide further input. Hall said the facility meets all current government regulations and will continue to do so if Di Cocco becomes the next environment minister. "As the minister of the environment, whoever that will be, the policies that are set are the policies the company will follow."

Clean Harbors employs 250 people and provides St. Clair Township with more than $400,000 annually in tipping fees and taxes.