I first published this in February, 2008. Not much has changed and ALL of it still holds true as it did 19 months ago. See a few updated comments in red below.
Where to begin? Although I've been away for some time, I've kept up with all the goings on over the incinerator. And in my travels I've had the opportunity to learn much more than I ever wanted to know about incineration, and the pro-incinerator lobby. They are powerful and vocal and are everywhere. They are masterful at showing the best side of incineration and hiding the deep, dark deadly secrets.
They will show you the clean, Darlington-looking control rooms and allow you to speak with those who depend on the industry for their livelihoods. They will point out a school or daycare or apartment building or clothesline just within spitting distance of the incinerator and tell you everyone is content and happy with it. And it makes you want to spit.
If you travel a little farther afield and speak to people not on the industry's "okay list", you'll find a lot of worry, a lot of dissatisfaction, and a lot of anger surrounding the incineration industry. Especially from those who were led to believe that it was safe with few emissions because of all the scrubber technology and monitoring. They found out differently AFTER the fact. They found out that livestock on farms were affected and now it's not safe to drink the milk or eat the meat that has 'bio-accumulated' toxins in them. It has now begun to hurt the farming industry and as that knowledge spreads, it will devastate it.
They found out that they are having higher rates of birth defects in infants in areas within a 20 - 90 km radius of these stacks. They are having more chronic lung disease problems such as asthma (sound familiar?) and certain types of cancers.
But in most cases, their governments are silent. They don't want to be sued and they want to keep up their denials. There are some in government who are trying to speak out and are muzzled. There are many in the general population who are not muzzled and are being heard world-wide, if you care to listen.
Our elected (and unelected) officials have chosen not to listen. They are content to listen only to the paid EFW lobbyists the Region hired to promote incineration. Yes, that's right, they were hired to get it through the EA process and get it approved. They were not hired to do objective testing or studies - and that is more than evident from the so-called studies already completed. Look at the air quality statistics brought forward at Regional Committees and Council, and at Clarington Council numerous times. Those numbers came from the appendices of the Region's very own hired consultant's studies so they cannot dispute them. But those numbers were hidden deep in those pages and never, not once, brought forward by the consultants in all their presentations to committee, council, or the public at the public information sessions, even when asked about them. When air quality numbers are hundreds and thousands of times worse in Clarington than in East Gwillimbury, but they are rated as equal or both "neutral" for advantage or disadvantage, you know SOMETHING isn't right.
And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Confidence in the EA process has been dwindling as it has become increasingly evident that results appear to be manipulated in such a way as to promote or ensure the desired outcome of the process. This is not wild speculation. It seems so abundantly obvious if anyone takes the time to actually read not only the executive summary of these studies, but also dig deep into the bowels of the consultant's analysis to extract the fact from the faeces.
That so many of our elected officials are taken in by this spin and haven't taken the time to flush out the truth for themselves is highly disturbing. These are the people who are entrusted with our health and well-being, yet they refuse to listen to the groundswell of doctors in Durham Region who are vehemently opposed to this incinerator. They refuse to read the medical journals or numerous studies that would support the contention that there are emissions that cannot be captured by present technology - emissions that are bioaccumulative and dangerous to humans, especially in the fetal stages, infants and toddlers, and those with chronic illness who are already compromised. Tiny nanoparticles that can penetrate all organs including the brain through the blood/brain barrier.
They are entrusted with keeping our environment safe and healthy, yet refuse to listen to experts or environmental groups and choose instead to believe the consultants who are paid to PROMOTE incineration, the lobby groups and the industry.
They should be protecting agriculture in the region, including livestock operations, but have ignored expert studies and peer review literature which explains the risks and already proven effects on the food chain.
They should be caring a lot more than they are - and should show some common sense. Mayor Abernethy continues say they MUST push this EA through (though he neglects to say it should be done properly instead of FAST). The way this EA is being conducted, speed is so much more important than accuracy, and speed is a good way to hide many of the facts that should be made public knowledge.
Take the ridiculous reasons given by most Regional Councillors for approving the Courtice 01 site as the preferred site for the incinerator to be built - so that they can get ALL the information needed to make an informed decision. Then they went ahead and made a MAJOR decision in the EA process steps WITHOUT having the necessary information to make that decision. Talk about loony and backward. They needed to have technology information before choosing the site. They completely ignored the information given to them by residents and doctors and experts regarding air quality, for example, using that fake excuse that they want to get more information. Why make such an important decision without having the information first? We know why - it is an excuse they can use to push the EA farther and farther down the road and enable it to skip over information that should be given tough scrutiny. Instead it will get short shrift.
Sept 2009: And it did. This Regional Council approved the EA studies at their June 24th meeting, the last meeting prior to their summer vacation. This was BEFORE all the studies were completed, BEFORE all the results had been reported, BEFORE the Peer Reviews were completed, BEFORE the final of the DRAFT EA was completed.
Which means that ALL those ridiculous excuses for pushing this EA ahead at every step were just that - ridiculous excuses. That they wanted to have "ALL the information" before giving approval? If that were really true, wouldn't they have waited for the final studies and peer reviews to be completed before approving it? There is no excuse or justification for their actions that will make this community believe them or trust them again.
The public is not being fooled, other than a few who have listened to their politicians and not questioned any of the information or done any research themselves. And those are the people who won't be changed anyway. They're probably still using that old DDT in their yards and have kept the asbestos in their walls and don't worry about it because they're not sick yet. They probably smoke too (no lung cancer yet) and think there will be hundreds of jobs to run this new facility. They certainly haven't done their homework there, either.
The incinerator lobby can be excused to some degree for their shameless promotion of EFW, WtE, incineration or whatever you want to call it. They get paid for it. But the fact that our politicians in whom we place our trust are shamelessly promoting it and not even asking questions is totally inexcusable and disgraceful.
That our Mayor Abernethy and Regional Councillors Charlie Trim and Mary Novak put the Region AHEAD of Clarington is disgraceful and inexcusable. Where they got the idea that their first allegiance is to the Region, above Clarington and its residents is not hard to figure out. They are being used by the Region to get what the Region wants. And they haven't even figured that out yet.
Add Local Clarington Councillor Gord Robinson to this bunch. He betrayed his constituents in Clarington, including his agricultural constituents by flip-flopping and voting to approve the Host Community Agreement - an agreement that did NOT contain the monitoring that had been promised to Clarington residents previously by the Region, but ended up being too expensive for them to include in the final EA. No agricultural monitoring for effects from the incinerator. He told other Councillors it was included when it wasn't. A request from the Agricultural Committee was not even considered by Clarington Council because Councillor Robinson decided to betray us all and receive it for information, not vote to endorse it. While I was not present at that meeting, it was talked about afterward by residents and the information can be found in Council minutes.
It is unbelievable that these three (Abernethy, Trim, Novak) voted AGAINST the motion by Brian Nicholson that said if a municipality was an unwilling host, the region would not force an incinerator on them. They would not even protect their own municipality - the Region as always comes first. None of the three can claim they are being protective of Clarington or NOT putting the Region first in all things incinerator.
This is why these three must NEVER be allowed to be re-elected in Clarington. (Add Councillor Robinson so there are now four) They have given up their right to speak for us since they have never spoken for us. They speak for the Region at all times. This is something none of us should forget, no matter how this incineration farce turns out. They have not stood up for Clarington. Only our four local councillors have done so. Hats off to Councillors Foster, Hooper, Woo and Robinson (REMOVE ROBINSON). They are the only ones looking our for our welfare, and it can't be easy with the pressure from the Region and from our Mayor. They deserve our gratitude and our support. And more than ever now.
Now comes the PR farce the Mayor is trying to foist upon the good citizens of Clarington. These people who will be speaking are not experts on incineration. They are promoters, lobbyists, but where are the experts? How can residents give their councillors questions to ask the presenters before they hear them speak? Our hands are tied and the Mayor knows it. That is why these people were invited by our Mayor are being promoted in this forum rather than at an open forum where residents can ask questions.
There is so much more to say on this subject and it will be said. The entire scenario as it is playing out simply disgusts me. All that I hold dear, namely fairness, openness, honesty, transparency, democracy... they are all missing from this entire process. The dirty little bag of tricks continues but is not fooling anybody. Instead it is strengthening those in opposition to this entire debacle. The word is rapidly spreading. They may have the votes at Regional Council to approve this incinerator. But WE have the votes at the ballot box, and we will not forget.
I reiterate: WE WILL NOT FORGET.
Watch now for all the green washing attempts by individual Councillors and Mayors who voted in favour of the incinerator without having all the facts first, without listening to the residents, without considering all the documented evidence against incineration and without regard for our health or that of our children. WITHOUT having any proof that is is SAFE. The best that could be said by our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kyle, was that he couldn't find irrefutable proof that it ISN'T safe. But he also could not find proof that it IS safe.
Absence of proof is not proof of absence. Whatever happened to the Precautionary Principle?