Toronto Star - Three Articles on Incineration

This series of three articles on incineration and the Durham Region incinerator proposal was published in the Toronto Star over the Easter weekend. The Star also published an editorial Tuesday April 6 that could have been written by an incinerator lobbyist.

The sub-headline "Even Greenpeace has stopped objecting" in part 3 is taken out of context. Greenpeace Canada has posted a blog entry by Dr. Paul Johnston from the Exeter lab at Greenpeace International.

Many of the assertions by pro-incineration spokespersons should be challenged. Please send a short, no-nonsense letter to the editor <>. You can also respond to the pro-incineration comments on the articles online.

Part 1: Landfill or incineration: the climate change dilemma
Which does less harm when it comes to greenhouse gases isn’t easy to pinpoint
Fri Apr 02 2010 By Catherine Porter, Columnist

It’s a humble soybean field today. But soon, a giant smokestack may mark the spot, just east of the idle auto parts plants of Oshawa, where 140,000 tonnes a year of garbage put out on the street by Durham Region residents will go to be burned.
The $274 million energy-from-waste plant planned for this site, which will include a $1 million public viewing gallery where visitors can see the technology at work. just passed muster in a provincial environmental assessment. With the public comments period over as of Friday, the proposal now heads back to the environment ministry for final approval.

Proponents say the state-of-the-art plant, which will use waste to generate power, is a symbol of the region’s commitment to fighting climate change.

But whether that assertion stands up is a complicated issue for scientists and politicians alike. It all depends on how you analyze the life cycle of garbage.
Read more... (PDF)

Part 2: Incineration: a recycling killer?
As a quick fix for waste issues, burning can do more harm than good
Sat Apr 03 2010 By Catherine Porter, Columnist

DETROIT—Just off the city’s main strip, beyond a row of decaying car plants, a parade of dump trucks rumbles into a sprawling grey and red building with four smokestacks.

Inside, a Dickensian scene unfolds at the bottom of a dark pit — machines push mounds of refuse around beneath the yellow glare of overhead lights and green mist of chemical spray, before it is scooped up and jammed down a chute.

This is Detroit’s incinerator, or “waste-to-energy” facility, as industry players now call them.
Read more... ()

Part 3: Porter: Will burning Durham's garbage make us sick?
Even Greenpeace has stopped objecting, but Durham residents aren’t convinced
Sun Apr 04 2010 By Catherine Porter,Columnist

Protesters who showed up in gas masks outside Durham Region’s Whitby headquarters one night last May weren’t mollified by assurances that today’s incineration technology is far cleaner than that of 20 years ago.
“It’s a travesty that they’ve chosen greed over the health and welfare of our children,” Oshawa mother Marissa Kata said of the region’s decision to ask Covanta Energy to build a $236 million plant near Clarington that would erase the region’s garbage problem while generating power.

“We have a moral responsibility to stand up and say ‘no,’” chimed in Sid Ryan, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, also on hand that night. Anti-incinerator Councillor Brian Nicholson claimed the region’s consultant had admitted there was a health hazard involved, “But they buried it deep in the 400-page report.”

And some 75 doctors are said to have come out against the plan, worried about what else the plant might generate: asthma, cancer, delayed development in children?
Read more... (PDF)

Editorial: To burn or to dump?
Tue Apr 06 2010

Durham region's planned garbage incinerator has three things going for it: the region's medical officer of health has given it a green light; it meets provincial environmental regulations; and modern incinerators of this type, which turn waste into energy, are safely used across Europe and, closer to home, in Peel region.
Read more... (PDF)

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