Fire / Feu

Est-ce que
le Nouveau-
Brunswick est
devenu le
des déchets
toxiques de
du Nord?

Le gouvernement du Nouveau-
Brunswick a donné à Bennett Environmental une approbation préliminaire pour la construction d'un incinérateur de déchets dangereux à Belledune. Sans tenir compte des farouches oppositions des scientifiques, des environnementalistes et de nombreux citoyens inquiets, Bennett planifie importer des déchets toxiques des sites pollués aux États-Unis et au Canada dès 2004.

Les mots les plus souvent associés à l'incinération sont : danger, cancer, dioxine, maladie, métaux lourds, contamination, poursuite, désastre environnemental, recours collectifs, nettoyage, défaut de naissance. 

Mais pourquoi donc le gouvernement du Nouveau-Brunswick serait-il prêt à sacrifier les gens et l'environnement de la région de Belledune?


Is New Brunswick becoming
the toxic waste tailpipe of
North America?

Armand Melanson
Dieppe NB
October 2003

Iam not an environmentalist (not that there's anything wrong with that). I am not a Birkenstock-wearing, new-aged, yoga practicing granola guy (not that there's anything wrong with that). My name is Armand Melanson and I'm very likely a lot like you. I have a job, a family, a home, hobbies and all that stuff.

(photo: News source)

So why am I doing this? It all started way back one day when I chopped down a trufula tree to knit a thneed and out with a slunkitty schmacks popped this little guy called the Lorax. OK that's not true, but if you haven't read Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, which I'm lucky to read to my daughters ever so often, now is a good time. A really good time...

A few months ago, I started to catch the radio chatter about a proposed toxic waste incinerator in Belledune. The plan, as I understood it, was to import hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous toxic wastes from the U.S. and abroad, and burn them in Belledune. I don't know about you, but even on the surface, it didn't sound like such a great idea to me. 'So long Belledune,' I thought to myself.

But what did I know about toxic waste incineration? So I continued to listen to the arguments put forward by the pro-incinerator camp (Bennett and the NB government) and the no-incinerator camp (just about everybody else):

Bennett says: "Safe"
Activists answer: "UnSafe"

Bennett: "Clean"
Activists: "UnClean"

Bennett: "Healthy"
Activists: "UnHealthy"

Bennett: "Good"
Activists: "Bad"

Bennett [cleverly]: "Bad"
Activists: "Bad"

Bennett: "Dohh!!! [thinking ...]
Quiet or I'll sue you!"

and so on. The rhetoric is slightly more enlightened but that's the basic gist of it.

I remembered the fierce opposition Kirkland Lake Ontario residents had to the proposed incinerator there--the Ontario government actually stood up for protecting the people and the environment from 'alleged' toxic contamination and they drove Bennett out of Ontario. But Bennett recovered quickly and headed straight to NB.

In NB, Bennett maintained that their incinerator would be clean burning--it wouldn't present any dangers to the Belledune region. And it would actually help to detoxify some of the most polluted sites in the world. Sounds like a noble enough cause. But more and more groups opposing the project seemed to be coming out of the woodwork--fisheries associations, agricultural producers, native bands, environmental activists, people on the Quebec side of the Baie Des Chaleurs, etc.


Despite my initial this-can't-be-good gut reaction, I've always been a little leery of the environmental lobby, and I wasn't completely convinced that the Bennett plan was so bad. Bennett's arguments sounded reasonable... It all came down to whether or not toxic waste incineration is clean and safe (as Bennett claimed).

Where else to turn for the answer than the Net. So, I headed to Google with the keyphrase "Toxic Waste Incineration". The 20 minutes that followed literally flattened me. The more I read, the more astonished I became. And I've been reading for weeks now. What did I find?

Toxic waste incineration is not just potentially unsafe;
It doesn't just have possible risks;
It doesn't sometimes work out well and sometimes not;

  • Toxic waste incineration is inherently unsafe. There is no such thing as clean incineration.

  • Toxic waste incineration always produces massive amounts of hazardous emissions and residues.

  • Incineration bi-products are often far worse than the raw waste being processed.

  • The local environments always become contaminated and are eventually left to deal with the toxic aftermath.

The words that are most often associated with incineration: danger, cancer, dioxin, illness, heavy metals, contamination, lawsuit, environmental disaster, class action, cleanup, birth defects. You can't find a single case where a toxic waste incinerator had a happy ending. They all go up in flames and they take the host communities with them. In the US, many such incinerators have so contaminated the local environments that the incinerators and surrounding areas are abandoned then classified as highly contaminated--so much for clean burning.

I know some people will say that all the hoopla over potential risks is exaggerated and alarmist. If the effects of waste incineration are 1/100th as bad as what I've read, it would still be too dangerous. The evidence is just too overwhelming. And the people of Belledune--and everywhere else--are worth protecting.

I'm not objective or unbiased. Anyone who has read even a little about the effects of waste incineration cannot be. I'm furious and outraged that the NB government is prepared to sacrifice the people and the environment of the Belledune region. If you share my feelings even a little, please sign the 'Stop Belledune' petition now: go here and click sign petition. Your voice really can make a difference.

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever does.'
~Margaret Mead~

'The greatest sin of our time is not the few who have destroyed but the vast majority who've sat idly by.'
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.~

'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'
~Edmund Burke~

If you're not convinced that this is a bad idea, read through the main site or do your own independent research. And try to imagine how you'd feel if a toxic waste incinerator was moving into your community. Imagine watching your family get sick, seeing your friends suffer from chronic illnesses, having your daughter die from leukemia. This happens to communities near incinerators. If we don't stop Belledune, your community may very well be next...

“It seems to me that in licensing these incineration operations, the government is creating zones of sacrifice. When I say ‘sacrifice zones’ I’m not just talking about people getting sick. I’ve seen them die. If the wind would blow the smoke towards the school on a Monday you’d see children being at home sick on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schools near incinerators had the highest absentee rates in the district. I met a lot of these children. I’ve seen them die of leukemia, brain cancer and a host of other disorders.”
--Dr. Neil Carman, former incinerator inspector & internationally recognized expert on toxic waste incineration