Lafarge tire burning project ignites fresh opposition in Nova Scotia
The province's waste diversion agency says burning tires is a "well-established and accepted" practice, but a community group argues incinerating spent tires will release dioxins into the air
BROOKFIELD, N.S.—A long-dormant community group in Nova Scotia is assembling again to oppose a company’s plan to burn tires in a kiln it uses to make cement.
Lydia Sorflatin, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Burning of Tires, says the coalition is opposed to the one-year pilot project recently approved for Lafarge Canada Inc., saying it is worried about air pollution.
“We want the public to understand there’s another version of how to look at things than the Lafarge version,” she said. “We want the citizens to have a say.”
The citizens group, which scheduled a public meeting for July 12, is drawn mainly from residents living near the Brookfield, N.S., plant and is coming together a decade after a committee formed by the province’s former Conservative government rejected a previous attempt by Lafarge to begin incinerating old tires.
The residents say little has changed in terms of the proposed technology, and they say they remain concerned that the chlorine in tires will release dioxins that have been linked to cancer.
Last week, the province’s recently elected Liberal government approved a one-year project that will monitor emissions from the tires being incinerated.
That came after the province’s non-profit waste-diversion agency—Divert NS—announced about one third of the roughly one million scrap tires made available to each year to a recycling firm would instead be sent to Lafarge.
Halifax C and D Recycling Ltd., the firm that recycles tires into construction materials, has argued its process of shredding the tires into aggregate is better for the environment.
Company vice-president Mike Chassie said his company has invested more than $5 million over the past nine years in creating ways to transform tires into useful construction material.
“We’re being hurt by this decision and it’s a complete reverse of direction of what was mandated,” he said in an interview.
However, Lafarge, a French multinational, says burning tires is better for the environment that using other fuels.
It has said in its proposal that using scrap tires for thermal energy and burning them at temperatures of 1,600 C in a cement kiln can reduce greenhouse gases by about 30 per cent for every tonne of coal replaced.
Lafarge will receive about $105 per tonne as a subsidy to burn the tires—almost half the amount that Halifax C and D would receive from Divert NS for shredding.
In an email, Divert NS said that using tires for fuel, “is a well-established and accepted, research-based technology used around the world, including regions with some of the strictest emissions standards.”
The province has said that, as a condition of its environmental permit, a system will be created to track how the emissions disperse in the atmosphere.
It also says a community liaison committee will be set up “to keep citizens informed of the project’s status and address their questions.”
The Citizens Against Burning of Tires group has said if Lafarge were to modernize the plant to use shredded tires and more advanced burning technologies, it would be more open to the incineration project.
However, the company has said the group’s proposed upgrades would make the project financially unviable.