MAC: Mines and Communities

Trashing Lafarge

Published by MAC on 2006-05-18

Trashing Lafarge

18th May 2006

It claims to be the most environmentally conscious of cement manufacturers. It's the world's biggest producer of the material and has been solidly backed by WWF for some years.

But Lafarge is now coming under increasing attack - as it did two weeks ago in Canada.

Groups demand Ontario kill toxic plan to burn tires and trash Data reveals up to 3,400% increase in toxic emissions from tire-burning cement kiln


18th May 2006

For Immediate Release

Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Ontario

TORONTO -A coalition of concerned groups blasted the Province of Ontario and Lafarge Canada today over the cement company's controversial proposal to burn massive amounts of tires, trash and animal rendering waste in an antiquated cement kiln in Bath, Ontario. The groups highlighted startling increases in emissions of toxic chemicals from Lafarge's tire-burning cement kiln near Montreal and slammed the company's plans to import millions of tires into Ontario each year from eight US states and Quebec.

At a press conference at Queen's Park today, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Loyalist Environmental Coalition and Toronto Environmental Alliance released startling data from Lafarge's cement facility in Saint-Constant, Quebec where the company began burning tires in its cement kiln several years ago. Collected and self-reported by Lafarge under Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory program, the data reveals increases of up to 3,400% in airborne releases of heavy metals and other toxic emissions between 2000 and 2004 and directly contradicts the company's categorical denial that burning tires and other wastes has a negative impact on local air quality and the environment.

"Lafarge categorically denies that burning tires in their cement kilns has a negative impact on local air quality and that we should look to their operations in Quebec, but their own data from Saint-Constant reveals shocking increases in emissions of heavy metals and potent carcinogens like dioxins and furans - some of the most toxic substances known to science," said Sierra Legal scientist Dr. Elaine MacDonald. "In 2004, Lafarge's
Saint-Constant facility was the second largest source of dioxins and furans in the province with emissions equivalent to the maximum acceptable annual intake of dioxin for a population of more than 3 million people."

Despite growing local opposition and repeated calls for a public and scientific analysis of the proposal's impact on air and water quality, the province has so far refused to subject this precedent-setting proposal to a full environmental assessment. Last month several groups and concerned citizens filed submissions under Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights critical of Lafarge's proposal and demanding a comprehensive environment assessment and a proper public consultation process.

"With the outrageous increases in emissions at Lafarge's tire-burning plant in Quebec, it is clear that the Ministry of Environment must do the right thing and reject this ill-conceived plan," said Martin Hauschild, President of the Loyalist Environmental Coalition. "We cannot allow our community's air, water and citizenry to become a dumping ground for dangerous chemicals and millions of tires from the US."

Lafarge's proposal includes plans to burn up to 100 tonnes of used tires, pelletized municipal waste, various types of animal meal, plastics and other materials per day, 365 days a year. The materials would be burnt as a so-called replacement fuel.

"By burning tires, Ontario is creating a solution to a problem that should not exist," said Gord Perks from the Toronto Environmental Alliance. "Just two weeks ago the province delayed plans to introduce a recycling program for used tires in Ontario."

"If the province intends to allow Lafarge to import this witches brew of tires, trash and bones from the US to be burned at the expense of the health of Ontario communities, it will have a serious legal battle on their hands," said Sierra Legal lawyer Christine Elwell.

For further information please read our Media Backgrounder or contact: Hauschild, President, Loyalist Environmental Coalition (613) 296 4355 cell Christine Elwell, Staff Lawyer, Sierra Legal (416) 368 7533 ext 29 Elaine MacDonald, Senior Scientist, Sierra Legal (416) 368 7533 ext 27 Gord Perks, Toronto Environmental Alliance (416) 596 0660

Lafarge Saint-Constant Air Emissions

. Lafarge's cement facility in Saint-Constant, Quebec, just south of Montreal, began burning tires several years ago in the facility's cement kiln as a replacement fuel

. Sierra Legal examined the most recent data available from Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory. This information is self-collected and reported by the company to the federal government.
. During the period 2000-2004 there were huge increases in the emissions of various chemicals including: cadmium (3,064%), chromium (609%), copper (3,441%), lead (141%), manganese (1,915%), nickel (1,028%) and zinc (1,139%), sulphur dioxide (145%) and particulate matter-2.5 (122%)

. During the same period, releases of dioxins and furans - some of the most toxic chemicals known to science - increased by 742%, making the Saint-Constant facility the second largest emitter of dioxins in Quebec

. Based on the Dioxin Assessment under the Canadian Environmental

Protection Act, the 2004 emissions of 0.826 grams Total Equivalents (TEQ) at the Saint-Constant facility are equivalent to the maximum acceptable annual intake of dioxin for a population of more than 3 million people

Lafarge's Proposal

. Lafarge Canada is a subsidiary of the world's largest cement producer, based in France

. The company's proposal would utilize a 1974-built cement kiln at Lafarge's plant in Bath, Ontario to burn waste materials as a source of fuel for the production of cement products

. Lafarge's proposal includes burning up to 100 tonnes per day of used tires, pelletized municipal waste, animal meal, non-recyclable plastics and solid shredded materials and by-products, including pulp and paper by-products and agricultural by-products

. The proposal includes importing hundreds of tonnes of materials from across Ontario, Quebec, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey and Massachusetts

. The proposal does not include the addition of any pollution control mechanisms

Environmental Bill of Rights Submission

. Last month Sierra Legal filed comments concerning the proposal on behalf of a local citizen's group, the Loyalist Environmental Coalition under Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights

. The submission slams Lafarge's proposal and demands a comprehensive environment assessment and proper public consultation process.

. The submission is supported by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Iroquois Group of Central New York and Sierra Club of Canada (Ontario Chapter).

. In light of potential trans-boundary air pollution issues and Government of Canada's responsibilities under the Canada-US Air Quality Agreement and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act the groups forwarded the submissions to Canada's Minister of the Environment and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

Please note that materials available for download from include: A map of waste import jurisdictions; Graphs of Saint-Constant air emissions; Image of Lafarge facility in Bath; and the groups' EBR Submission.

Christine Elwell
Staff Lawyer
Sierra Legal Defence Fund
30 St. Patrick Street, Suite 900
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5T 3A3
Tel. 416.368.7533 (ext. 29)
Fax 416.363.2746

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