Carmeuse kiln won’t burn garbage due to ‘collective action’ in Dundas, Flamborough, and Greenville

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Published March 20, 2023 at 5:40 pm

Following months of citizen organizing, Carmeuse Lime Limited has nixed a plan that would have allowed it to burn plastic, rubber, wood, and vinyl in its kilns in the Hamilton area.

The limestone manufacturer planned to apply to the Ontario government for it to be allowed to use alternative low-carbon fuels. so-called, to fire its kilns. The facility’s smokestacks are located fewer than 1 km from the Greenville Public School, and residents of the Dundas, Flamborough, and Greenville communities have said they have not had sufficient information about the potential long-term health effects from breathing in particulates.

Over 300 residents filled a school gymnasium on March 2 for a meeting where concerns were shared. High exposure to particulate matter can heighten individuals’ risk of developing cancer and respiratory disease. Areas of East Hamilton, for instance, have an above-average incidence of both, according to public health data.

On Monday, Ward 15 Coun. Ted McMeekin mentioned during a City of Hamilton board of health meeting that Carmeuse is not going ahead with the proposal. Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas MPP Sandy Shaw, the Ontario New Democrats’ critic for the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), also shared the letter she sent to constiuents.

Both McMeekin and Ward 13 Coun. Alex Wilson had called the plan “greenwashing” in interviews with Hamilton legacy media outlets. Wilson noted the effort could stand as a positive example in other parts of Hamilton, whose elected leadership heard a Board of Health report on Monday about increased particulates in the air from manufacturers and vehicle use.

“This is really an issue that connects people and shows what can happen with collective organizing,” said Wilson, who was the legislative assistant to Shaw prior to winning their council seat. “Even with this going away, there are still existing emissions, and there is a need to work to create community accountability.

” …In this case, a bad solution has been taken off the table,” Wilson added. “That’s how it should happen with these community and industrial relationships. The goal is not to vilify either side, but to build the relationships.”

Virtual town halls were held last year, but a thread in mahy media reports is that many residents felt ill-informed. Among elected officials, there was bipartisan concern. Flamborough—Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly, who is in the Ontario PC Party caucus, told CBC Hamilton on March 14 that she had expressed concerns about the plan with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Shaw, in her letter, offered congratulations to residents.

“I expressed concern that without standardizing the kinds of fuels they used, and without adequate monitoring and reporting, it would be impossible to ensure the safe operation of this facility and actual reduction of greenhouse gases,” Shaw wrote.

” …I was informed on Sunday that Carmeuse has announced they will be withdrawing their application to burn these alternative fuel sources.

“Through your collective action (as residents), the community has been successful in protecting our air, water, and soil.”

A company named Stantec conducted virtual public information sessions last year about Carmeuse’s plan. Kim Ireland, a professional engineer and project manager who has been the communications lead in the public consultations, provided inTheHammer with a statement on Monday afternoon (March 20).

“Carmeuse has decided not to proceed with the Alternative Low-Carbon Fuels project at our Dundas Operations at this time,” Ireland wrote. “Carmeuse is committed to reducing our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and we are now prioritizing other reduction opportunities. Carmeuse will provide public notification should we decide to proceed with future GHG reduction projects at the Dundas Operations.”

Other such plants approved

Skelly, as one of the MPPs representing the most affected residents, said in her recent statement mentioned “hopes of identifying a fuel source that is acceptable to both the community and the company.”

Some of the virtual info sessions took place before the municipal election last Oct. 24. Both Wilson and their opponent, former councillor Arlene VanderBeek, said that an in-person meeting should have been organized.

“People were saying ‘what is our voice,’ and as the details became clearer and clearer, it really seemed that residents did not have that much of a voice,” Wilson said on Monday afternoon.

The project, had Carmeuse applied and been successful, would have begun in 2024.

There are other plants that have Ontario’s approval to burn alternative low-carbon fuels. Both are on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

One is run by St Mary’s Cement in Bowmanville. The other is run by LafargeHolcim in Loyalist Township, Ont., west of the village of Bath.

Lafarge also owns the quarry in Flamborough where Carmeuse operates.

(Cover image: Google.)

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