Tuesday evening would prove to be a long one, largely although not exclusively, due to this issue. There were seven delegations listed for this issue, although some had gone home before they were finally called.
The longest presentation, as you might expect, was by the representative for the proponents, Dragon Racic, of Tesla Energy Institute Inc. He started off by making it clear that the City didn’t approve the project but only allowed them to do their due diligence. Then came the obligatory rosy picture of the opportunities this project could provide, such as the recently added fish pond, greenhouses and an education centre. And he even added something about a ski hill in Copenhagen.
Councillor Paone, who was loaded for bear that night, asked Mr. Racic about the claim there would be no more than 25 trucks per day which, at 600 tons a day capacity would means 24 tons per truck. Mr. Racic didn’t know the answer. Former Councillor Jean D’Ameio-Swyer, however, would later confirm that there were such super-trucks.
One would think that, with five weeks’ notice for the reconsideration, the proponents would do their homework and be prepared for the tough questions, but Mr. Racic seemed quite out of his element. He either didn’t know or didn’t want to clearly say where the waste would come from and readily agreed with Mayor Luciani that they could dig up old dump sites for garbage, such as the old Rice Road dump, though he said last time that old dumps might have too much moisture. He claimed there was an absence of dioxins and furans from other incinerators, but he didn’t have any proof. His answers left Councillor Longo to proclaim “I’m confused,” and told Paone that all their questions were impossible to answer that night. When asked how Council could make a decision without information, Mr. Racic said that he hoped they could discover the answers to this together over the next couple of years.
Councillor Paone also pointed out that the Minamata Convention on mercury in the environment claimed that incinerators were the number one source of mercury contamination and set the exposure limit to 10 micrograms, with Canada’s level set at 20. The level stated in the proponent’s info is 30 micrograms. And then there are bottom ash and fly ash, neither of which are addressed in the proponent’s table.
Councillor Neale pointed out that his accounting clients do extensive research for a business plan and asked if Mr. Racic didn’t go to Germany and see the operation and all the numbers, to which the response was that he did. Neale pointed out that, “you haven’t answered any of the questions so far,” to which Mr. Racic replied that, with 400 incinerators in the EU, people are still alive and walking, which he seemed to suggest meant it was alright. (Incinerators probably haven’t been around long enough to show long-term effects such as cancer.)
Councillor Ugulini asked Mr. Racic if he understood why they’re skeptical. Oddly, the reply was that Council hadn’t approved anything. When Councillor Whelan commented that they must
be pretty sure of the outcome to spend all that development money, he received no discernable reply.
Once Mr. Racic’s presentation done a number of citizens spoke, including one from Beamsville. One presenter suggested that the proponents are con artists: “Could it be that they’re only interested in making money?” One person said she moved her multi-million-dollar business out of Thorold because of the threat of the incinerator and that others were doing likewise. And it was pointed out by another that once this goes through, they won’t have any say in where the garbage comes from.
Liz Benneian of No Burn Niagara raised a chuckle when she said that she was now more confused than when she first got there. In response to the proponent’s claim that it would cost the taxpayer nothing she pointed out that “ISO doesn’t print money” and that the taxpayers would pay by way of the eight-cents-per-kilowatt-hour on their electric bills. She pointed out proponents’ other discrepancies. Asked by Councillor Longo why she didn’t come to warn them in Februray, Ms. Benneian replied that she didn’t find out about it until after the fact.
Once the delegations had been heard and the questions asked of them, there was very little discussion among the Councillors in reconsidering the issue. The motion was quickly made and, by a unanimous vote, the previous decision was rescinded, to be forwarded to ISO and distributed to the other municipalities in Niagara to request their support.