Mike Smith on tire burning -update

The Ceeb or someone must have realised what a hash Mike made of this interview ’cause they gave the issue a second airing this morning with an environmental lawyer from an  Ontario environmental group [Waterkeeper we think] who did make a better job of it. Did you notice though how he faltered when the interviewer got to the part about what to do with all those tires? He tried to say that tires were in demand by people who wanted them for making recycled stuff. [He didn’t mention anything specific except road building but hanging baskets, mosquito breeding, backyard swings, pots for growing potatoes,  and boat dock bumpers are a few more ideas we could suggest] He got flustered at this point because he knew he was on thin ice with this argument; if it were true there wouldn’t be stacks and stacks of tires warehoused all over the country world

Every year in Europe, Germany produces 550,000 tons, France 350,000, Great Britain, 290,000 and Italy 150,000 tons. In order to illustrate the lack of recycling solutions which currently characterize Europe, lets have a closer look at the British case.

In Britain, 36% of the non retreadable used tires are sent to landfill (105,000 tons), 29% are left on vehicles in scrapyards, 8% are exported, 21% are sent to incineration (not all for energy recovery) and 4% are incinerated in cement kilns.

Europe produces annually an enormous quantity of used tires, most of which are being sent to landfill. But landfill is not a long term solution because of their saturation and of environmental laws. Moreover, the costs of used tire treatment is reaching a high level almost everywhere. If nothing was done, the number of uncontrolled and illegal landfills/stockpiles would grow as would the accompanying pollution risks. …

“I oppose tire burning by Lafarge” said Mike Smith (mayor of Colchester) with some passion.
We listened to this CBC radio report this morning with some interest having commented on the issue in a previous post. An approximation of the back and forth between Mike and the interviewer follows since we couldn’t find a link to the report.

The interviewer was doing his job with some specific questions like ” Isn’t it illegal to burn tires in Nova Scotia already? ”
” I don’t know about that but whether legal or illegal it doesn’t matter, it is just wrong to burn tires.”
“Why are people concerned about Lafarge’s plan to burn tires?” the interviewer prodded.
” People don’t like it. They are concerned and we agree. It isn’t a good idea to burn tires.”
The interviewer tried to help out. ” Is it because they are afraid it will release dioxin and furans?”
” Look I’m not a scientist but at Dalhouse they say it isn’t a good thing for the environment and we trust…look, Nova Scotia is proud of its environment and its natural beauty and we shouldn’t be burning tires.”
The interviewer kept bringing up inconvenient facts. ” Lafarge only planned to use tires for 30% of its fuel. Even then there are a lot of tires to be disposed of what will happen to them?”
“It is a problem all these tires, a problem to be looked at but we think burning tires is not what we should be doing. Lafarge should use natural gas instead. The government should be more creative in its thinking.”
“Sending all these tires to Quebec to be burned there, or sending them to a landfill isn’t a good solution either I suppose” suggested the interviewer.
” Well, no. These tires are hard to dispose of. It is a problem we have to consider but we don’t like the idea of Lafarge burning them. We oppose it.” Mike was solid on that. He doesn’t want Lafarge to burn tires. Why? We haven’t a clue. He couldn’t articulate that.

My, my. We think the Liberal party had a lucky escape when Mike didn’t win the leadership.

Ironically fires in stacked or warehoused tires are a real danger and such tire fires have happened quite frequently in the past. The results of such fires are far nastier than Lafarge’s kiln burning, especially if it was mandated that they use the best available technology [that would be creative!].

In a similar situation in Ontario:

Lafarge spokesman Rob Cumming said Wednesday that alternative fuels
such as tires are safer for the environment than the coal it has burned
at its plant for 34 years. The pilot project would allow materials such
as tires to make up only as much as 30 per cent of the plant’s fuel, so
coal will continue to be used.

We expect Lafarge has made statements in support of their proposal here too. We don’t know if what Lafarge claims is true or not but Mike Smith had an opportunity this morning to counter Lafarge’s version of the facts. He blew it. It didn’t seem like he wanted any facts (whether challenged or unchallenged) to get in the way of his argument which is opposition pure and simple.


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