Lafarge Canada submitted to the Ontario government a proposal to burn massive amounts of tires, trash and animal rendering waste in an antiquated cement kiln in Bath, Ontario. The proposal includes plans to burn up to 100 tonnes of used tires, pelletized municipal waste, various types of animal meat, plastics and other material per day, 365 days a year. The materials would be burnt as a so-called replacement fuel.

The company also planned to import millions of tires into Ontario each year from eight U.S. states and Quebec.

Why was Ecojustice involved?

Data from Lafarge’s cement facility in Saint-Constant, Quebec, where the company already burned tires, revealed that airborne releases of heavy metals and other toxic emissions increased up to 3,400 per cent between 2000-04. This contradicts the company’s denial that burning tires and other wastes has a negative impact on local air quality and the environment.

The Loyalist Environmental Coalition needed our help to ask the Ontario Minister of the Environment to hold an independent environmental assessment and public hearing given the significant public health and environmental impacts both at the local and regional level.

In June 2008, Lafarge lost its bid to stop the public hearings at the Ontario Divisional Court. In November 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal denied Lafarge’s appeal of that decision.

Lafarge withdrew its proposal in December 2008 before concerned groups and citizens could scrutinize the proposal at the Environmental Review Tribunal.

What does this victory mean?

The precedent-setting decision confirms the public’s right to participate in environmental decision-making and compels the provincial government to consider the cumulative impacts of a project — the effect of the project in addition to existing conditions such as air or water pollution — before issuing an approval.

What’s next?

Find out more:

Ecojustice staff:
Marlene Cashin, Staff Lawyer
Hugh Wilkins, Staff Lawyer
Dr. Elaine MacDonald, Staff Scientist