In Brookfield, Nova Scotia, decade-old clippings kept by Lydia Sorflaten narrate a story of her fight against a cement plant in her neighborhood, which had been burning tires 500 meters from Nova Scotia lake. It takes just a couple of minutes to get to the Lafarge plant by car from her home. Even though Sorflaten and her neighbors managed to stop the harmful process of incineration back then, earlier this month she saw a news report telling that the battle wasn’t fully won, and this news was extremely discouraging for the 72-year old N.S. resident.

Forgotten Canadian dispute whether the emissions resulting from tire incineration are safe, and whether it is more rational to burn waste tire rubber for industrial fuel instead of recycling it, has been brought to light again after the two decisions were taken. First, the local Environment Department lately sanctioned a one-year pilot scheme enabling Lafarge Canada Inc. extract fuel from scrap tires in its Brookfield factory in Nova Scotia. Second, some weeks before, Divert NS, the regional waste diversion company, said that annually, no less than 280,000 scrap tires will be distributed not to a recycler, but to Lafarge, a French global company that will get a provincial grant of approximately $1.05 per tire.

In 2008, a Lafarge plan, resembling the one for Brookfield, was opposed by the residents of Bath, Ontario. Consequently, Lafarge was defeated in a legal battle. On top of that, Ontario made a warrant indicating the local waste diversion initiative will not endorse tire burning. According to the Canadian Association of Tire Recycling Agencies, Alberta, Yukon, Manitoba and New Brunswick do not practice tire burning at all. As claimed by Rosemary Sutton, director of Tire Stewardship B.C., in the meantime, in British Columbia tire burning has shrunk since 1991, dropping to 13 per cent from 75 per cent of the total number of scrap tires.

Frederic Bolduc, a mechanical engineer of the Lafarge plant, said that burning tires would cause less air pollution compared to the other fuels such as petroleum coke and coal that the company is using. Nevertheless, the environmentalists criticized tire burning and argued against it. Moreover, Nova Scotia’s resolution to play in accordance with the Lafarge plan has been met with indignation of the largest environmental organization in the region and the only tire recycler operating in the province, which hold an agreement to shred the bulk of scrap tires, i.e. about one million. This tire recycler obtained a subsidy of approximately $2 per tire; the money was used together with the firm’s funds to research and develop a market for materials which could substitute gravel in road beds.

Mike Chassie, vice president of Halifax C and D Recycler, expressed concern that Divert NS’s resolution to favor the option of tire burning would signify he was short on supply and he believed that tire recycling was the most advantageous way of dealing with waste tires. Meanwhile, Jeff MacCallum, the CEO of non-profit Divert NS, said that if the tire recycling company faces competition, it could ultimately lead to price reductions and prevent growth of consumer recycling fees. However, the citizen group have not supported this viewpoint, as some of them measured expense not in dollars, but in the safety of environment. According to the group, the chlorine, which is burnt in used tires, forms carcinogenic furans and dioxins, and it is still unclear what level of such emissions can be seen as safe. To oppose this concern, Lafarge executive Rob Cumming claimed unbiased testing has revealed that dioxin and furan emissions from the kiln’s stack would be under levels that could pose threat to people’s health. In addition, local Environment Department stated it would validate this examination during the next year.

The former environment minister, Mark Parent, who supervised the resolution ten years ago to decline Lafarge’s initial tire-burning plan, said the Liberal administration’s current choice to go ahead contradicts a viewpoint that all political groups had maintained before. The politician was bothered with the fact that by burning tires instead of recycling them, people were taking a huge step back.

Article source: The Province