Toxic waste disposal unit in Belledune

        Several weeks ago, I wrote a column in which I posed a simple question concerning the building of the soil treatment plant in Belledune. That question was, "Why, if the process is so safe and environmentally friendly, is this plant not being built near to where it is needed, in New Jersey?" I argued that from an economic point of view, transporting creosote laden wood and soil some two thousand kilometres from its source to northern New Brunswick made no sense at all that I could see.

        An answer to my question may still be forthcoming, but, to date, no one has addressed it, at least as far as I am aware. In the meantime, two additional questions along the same line have come to mind. One of them is a direct follow-up to my original query: If this process is supposed to produce soil that will be clean enough to use for landscaping and agricultural purposes, what is Belledune going to do with 100 000 tons of it a year? Or, is the purified, sterilized product of this technology going to be shipped back to New Jersey, or elsewhere, where there is a market for it? I'm sorry, but none of this is making any sense to me, again on an economic level. All I can see is that there is going to be a huge volume of traffic on New Brunswick roads over the next several years as some 275 tons of contaminated dirt are hauled here each day, and, one presumes, nearly that same volume of purified material hauled away, again on a daily basis.

        That is a lot of travelling, and a huge expense, to move soil around.

        Bennet, the New Brunswick government, and the independent company that did the health impact assessment of the project all insist that this is a clean, environmentally safe, sophisticated process. For all I know, they may be right, and we really have nothing to fear. But, if that is the case, why here?

        If that is the case, why the hurry, the almost indecent hurry, to begin construction?

        Why was an Environmental Impact Study forsaken, if there is nothing to hide?

        I guess that I have become a bit cynical of late, but whenever I gather that someone is saying, in essence, "Don't worry, trust us, it will be good for you", then that is when I do begin to worry. But, in the final analysis, it was one small statistic that really did it for me. This grand scheme to begin the economic revival of the North Shore is going to produce eighteen jobs for local people when it is up and running.

        Why do I fear that, for eighteen jobs, we are being browbeaten into accepting a project that no one else wants, and that is of dubious value to anyone?


        This article appeared in the Campbellton Tribune, in Mike's "Grains of Sand" column. It is reproduced with Mike's permission.


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