January 15, 2002

Ms. Ariane Heisey, Project Officer
Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch
Ministry of the Environment
2 St.Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A
Toronto   ON    M4V 1L5

SENT BY FAX 416-314-8452
 

Dear Ms Heisey:

RE:  Bennett Environmental Inc. Draft Environmental Assessment Report for
  Proposed  High Temperature Thermal Oxidizer Facility

In December 2001, Bennett Environmental Inc. (BEI) released a draft environmental assessment report for their proposed high temperature thermal oxidizer facility, to be located in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. These comments are based on a preliminary review of the main submission and related appendices. Due to the very limited time allowed for comment and the overlap of the comment period with the winter / Christmas holidays, these comments were prepared without the assistance of legal counsel, and are preliminary in nature. We take a negative view of Bennett having timed the release of the draft EA report to be coincident with this holiday season, and of their having rejected requests from the public to extend the comment period, and so allow a more thorough review. We trust the Ministry of the Environment shares our concern with these circumstances having limited the opportunities for public participation.

Background
Bennett Environmental Inc. is proposing to establish a "fixed soil treatment" facility on Archer
Drive in Kirkland Lake. The proposed facility will be capable of receiving and treating up to
200,000 metric tons of contaminated soil annually from, according to Bennett, "a primarily North
American market base". Bennett describes the proposed facility as a "high temperature thermal oxidiser", more commonly known as an incinerator.

The proposed facility could accept soils and solids contaminated with chlorinated organic
compounds (for example PCBs & PCP) as well as non-chlorinated organic compounds. Soils and
solids will consist primarily of soil, sediment, concrete, brick, asphalt, sand, aggregate, roots,
wood, and similar materials removed during the cleanup of contaminated sites. The proposed facility could also treat packaging material such as plastic liners, bulk bags, corrugated boxes and wood used to package delivered soils. The chlorinated and non-chlorinated organic compounds will include pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, wood perservatives, PCB, PCP, PCDF, PAH, PCDD, TCE, coal tars, hydrocarbons, creosote, and "others".

Polycholorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of manmade organic chemicals produced by the
direct combination of chlorine and biphenyl, a derivative of benzine. PCB's have been banned in
Canada since 1977 due to their adverse effects on the environment and human health. PCB's
bio-concentrate and biomagnify, are extremely persistent toxics, and are known carcinogens.

Summary of Concerns
As note above, we have conducted a preliminary review of the draft environmental assessment application prepared by Bennett Environmental Inc., and of a selection of the related appendices.

Our comments are primarily with respect to the main submission. This document should effectively summarize the findings of the environmental assessment review process, and provide sufficient information for general review and evaluation purposes, supported by further evidence referenced in the appendices. In the case of the Bennett main submission, we find the report to be deficient in a number of respects, and to be inadequate in its description of the proposed facility and its potential effects and impacts.

The  deficiencies include but are not limited to the following:
  based on the documentation provided (Main Volume, Appendices), the environmental assessment has failed to follow / comply with the approved Terms of Reference (TOR).  For example, the main volume fails to provide even a reference to the rationale for the chosen technology, the rationale for the selection of the incinerator design, and the rationale for the selection of the site chosen in Kirkland Lake. Further, several factors included for consideration in the TOR are not included or addressed in the Human Health and/or Ecological Risk Assessments, including exposure through consumption of wildlife, through drinking water, through dermal contact while swimming, all of which are acknowledged by Bennett as having been excluded, despite direction in the TOR to address them. Not acknowledged , but also excluded, were exposure through indoor air, airborne dusts, and dermal contact with soils and dust.
  it appears that the main volume and at least some of the supporting reports  have been released prematurely, before necessary information had been obtained or evaluated; for example Bennett and/or their consultants have not yet obtained any information on the emissions of their PCB-processing neighbor, Trans-Cycle Industries, despite its direct relevance and at least some of the information being readily available on the Ministry of the Environment's internet site; other examples include instances of studies not yet completed, and information being absent.
  throughout the reports, but particularly in the main volume, the authors make statements for which they provides no background, no supporting evidence and/or no reference, even in those many cases where the statements appear to be central to their conclusions.
  there appear to be a number of contradictory statements made throughout the document(s).
  the authors make a number of  statements which we believe to be  false and / or incorrect or are misleading; this is particularly evident in Section 6, but we have no confidence that the same observation could not be made about several and/or all sections.
  the authors use the term "study area" to denote several different delineations or geographic areas, while providing no overall rationale or explanation for these differences, or even indicating at each point of using a different delineation which one is being used.
Given the number and seriousness of these deficiencies, in our view it would be appropriate for BEI to prepare a second draft, to be circulated prior to preparing a final EA document. To assist in this and other future reviews, we propose that Bennett be directed to prepare a table of concordance, in which they cross-reference the (draft) EA document, the supporting reports / appendices, and the approved Terms of Reference.

Further, given the chronic problems with short notice and limited review periods in this EA process, we also suggest that Bennett be directed to issue an updated timeline, indicating their intentions in terms of future public consultation, and the release and review periods for future documents. We also recommend that Bennett and/or the Ministry of the Environment Environmental Assessment Branch  issue updated timelines on a regular basis.

Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment Document(s)
The following sections provide a brief outline of our concerns and observations with respect to each section of the Main Volume of the Bennett Draft Submission. In some instances, we have included comments on related sections of the appendices. Any text appearing in italics is excerpted directly from the Main Volume Draft Submission. For purposes of brevity, we have included a page and section reference, rather than including a whole section of text from the Bennett draft documents.

Section 1 - Introduction

The introductory section in the draft submission contains even less information than was included in the Terms of Reference (TOR) document. The introduction only indirectly states the Purpose of the undertaking, it provides no hint of the need for the undertaking, and it fails to provide even the cursory information describing the regulatory context which is included in the introductory section of the approved Terms of Reference. This section should be expanded to include, at minimum, those items just mentioned. This may also be an appropriate section to discuss the proponent's reasons for siting the facility in Kirkland Lake in general, and its proposed location on Archer Drive in particular.

Main Volume, Page 5, Section 1
-  the section states that Bennett wishes to take advantage of a business opportunity; this is a stated intention but has not been demonstrated as a realizable "opportunity"; for example, no information is provided in the draft environmental assessment report about how Bennett has determined volume / source / etc to be sufficient to make operation feasible over longer term; nor does the draft EA address the related issues around financial assurances, closure plans, etc.
 

Section 2 - Description of the Undertaking

The deficiencies of this section fall into two main categories: those items which were identified in the Terms of Reference but which have not been included / addressed in the draft EA report, and those items which are flawed, incomplete or inaccurate in their presentation in the main volume of the draft submissions. Items which fall into the former category - required by the TOR but absent from the Bennett submission - include providing rationales for the chosen technology, for the selection of the incinerator design, and for the selection of the site chosen in Kirkland Lake. The failure to address these key areas in the draft submission is extremely significant, and this failure is sufficient reason on its own to require a second draft of the EA report be circulated for comment before Bennett proceeds to preparation of their final submission. The items which fall into the latter category - areas which were addressed, albeit poorly - are outlined in the following several points.

Main Volume, Page 5, Section 2
-  the section states that the facility will treat up to 50,000 kg / hour of haz waste impacted soils, sediments, dredging, dewatered sludge, aggregates, concrete, bricks, tiles, asphalt, wood, packaging materials, sorbents, granular materials, spent activated carbon and other similar materials contaminated with chlorinated and non-chlorinated organic compounds but it provides no information about these materials or their anticipated source; the environmental assessment report should provide the authors' basis or rationale for this assumption, clarify if this is average, peak, or potential volume of treatment, and discuss any possible ramifications for the treatment process, operations, and operational viability (including employment and economic contributions cited in Section 4.9) if volumes are lower or are sporadic or fluctuating.

Main Volume, Page 5 Section 2
-  this section should include information about the composition of the waste stream, and the nature of the various materials, including their chemical behaviour; currently, full names are not even provided, only acronyms (ie PCB, PCP, PCDF, etc); the discussion should include descriptions of the materials' chemical nature, its associated environmental and chemical hazards, persistence in the environment, human health effects, etc.

Main Volume, Page 10, Section 2
-  the environmental assessment report states that the need for a retention pond has been eliminated from the facility design; however, the same document refers to a retention pond as if part of the design in Section 4.2, on page 92, and Appendix C includes statements about a wetland which would make an ideal choice for the location of a storm water retention lagoon( Appendix C, p 14).

Main Volume, Page 10 Section 2.1
-  the report currently lacks any description of how materials will be characterized, or even by who (contaminated soils and solids will be well characterized by Bennet and/or the generator ...); the report should discuss this practices around material /waste stream characterization in a great deal more detail, including, for example, descriptions of how materials other than soils and solids will be characterized, by what methods, and by whom; the report also lacks any description of how or if materials will be characterized at the facility, either routinely or as quality control on a random basis
-  there is no discussion of how packaged materials will be characterized before or after arrival at facility
-  there is no discussion of packaging materials, their management or disposal, or how the packaging may affect the waste stream and/or its processing
-  the reference to intermodal containers as approved packaging suggests a broad definition of packaging is being applied; more detail is required, including a discussion of effect on process and residual volumes

Main Volume, Page 16 Section 2.2
-  the draft report states that the emission stack is to be equipped with continuous emission monitors ..., but it is unclear if those monitors will be operated continuously, and if for all substances or just those listed in Section 2.2

Main Volume, Page 16, Section 2.3
-  this section provides examples of how the draft environmental assessment report is ambiguous and omits necessary details; eg. rejects will be transported to a suitable facility and majority of this material is not hazardous and when required, the small volume of hazardous material can be sent to a hazardous waste landfill ...; these are general statements, and should be clarified and supported with a description of how the conclusions being put forward have been reached, and how they will be implemented
-  there is no discussion on the disposal of residuals, other than references to disposing of some materials in "approved facilities"; the entire residual waste stream should be discussed, with waste management strategies (including avoidance, reduction and disposal) for each category or group of residual wastes
-  the discussion of fugitive emission control is unclear; for example, the report states that the building receiving the soil will be kept under negative pressure during operation; is that at all times, or simply when thermal unit is operating? Similarly, in the next paragraph the draft environmental assessment report states that fugitive emissions will be vented through thermal process;  is that at all times, or only when thermal unit is operating? And what percentage of the time does Bennett anticipate the thermal unit being in operation? How is this expectation supported by Bennett's experience at their Quebec facility?
 

Section 3 - Description of the Existing Environment

This section fails to adequately describe the existing environment, and repeatedly displays Bennett's failure to adequately investigate existing influences or examine relevant factors. Repeatedly, it appears, Bennett has taken short cuts or simply ignored important areas of investigation, including in their monitoring programs, field work, and desk-top research. One failure competes with another in terms of being the most outstanding: for example, the failure to include year-round air quality data, the failure to incorporate Trans-Cycle Industries' air emissions, or the failure to conduct any study of the value of agriculture-related businesses in Timiskaming District

Main Volume, Page 17 Section 3.1
-  the draft report states that air quality monitoring, conducted in order to provide air quality data for the Kirkland Lake area, was done for only two weeks, October 18 - November 1, 2000; the stated purpose was to develop an estimate of baseline ambient air quality for input to the EA; to provide adequate baseline ambient air quality for input to the EA monitoring must be done at least throughout a one year period, and at least during each of the periods of extreme conditions, ie. summer and winter; given that air quality issues are more pronounced during summer conditions, all-season monitoring - and particularly summer season - is very important

Main Volume, Page 21 Section 3.1.2
-  the draft environmental assessment report states that it was not feasible to monitor all of the targeted substances, ie. mercury, pesticides, bis (2-chloroethyl), ether, and carbon monoxide, but fails to explain or discuss why this was not feasible, or on what basis it was feasible to screen for some substances and not others; this section also states that background levels .... were estimated with observed concentrations from other locations, but fails to say what other locations or the basis for their having been selected as proxies.

Main Volume, Page 22 Section 3.1.3
-  the draft environmental assessment report states that Bennett was unable to get emissions information for Grant Wafterboard and TCI, despite an access to information request outstanding since February 2001; the environmental assessment report - and Bennett's description of the existing environment and evaluation of human health and ecological risks - is incomplete without this information; there is no explanation of what steps Bennett took to procure the information, or what action was taken in response to the Access to Information timelines being exceeded, or why authors fail to include even summary information about TCI exceedences which is found in the non-compliance data report which is posted on the Ministry of the Environment's web site

Main Volume, Page 23 Section 3.1.3
-  the draft environmental assessment report identifies that TCI is proposing to include a thermal desorption unit to treat soil, sludge, and debris, but fails to include any discussion on the impact of this proposal on a) the Bennett business opportunity or b) the TCI emissions

Main Volume, Page 23 Section 3.14
-  the main volume summary of air quality concludes that anomalous levels above Ontario ambient air quality criteria... (can) be attributed to the influence of local sources; the purpose of this statement is unclear; Bennett should discuss the consequences of anamolaous levels in the context of their project, regardless of source, and should demonstrate a clear understanding of the additive effect of current, anticipated and possible future emissions, including and in addition to their own
-  the draft report states that the monitoring program to date has been preliminary, and that further monitoring will be done - including monitoring of pesticides - will be done after the EA. has been approved; again, Bennett has failed to explain why the monitoring for pesticides was not possible in the "preliminary" monitoring program; given their intended waste stream, this monitoring is an important component of the pre-ea decision studies, and must be done prior to their preparation and submission of a final EA document

Main Volume, Page 23 Section 3.2
-  the draft environmental assessment report states that samples were taken between August and October 2002, a period which will begin approximately 8 months after Bennett submitted their Draft EA
-  this section references material which should have been included in the draft EA, but which Bennett proposes to include only in the final EA submission; as indicated in our opening remarks, it is our view that Bennett should prepare a second draft for review prior to preparation and submission of their final EA document, given the number of deficiencies and the obviously preliminary nature of the December 2001 draft EA document

Main Volume, Page 24 Section 3.2.1
-  it appears, based on the statements that the only flow measurements for the two springs are from October, that the field work to determine water quality for Murdoch Creek was done in a single season, despite Bennett consultants being in the immediate area (see page 34, Section 3.4) over several seasons, including in August, September, February and May; sampling and field observation for the purpose of evaluating possible impacts on water quality must be done on a four-season basis at minimum, including during and immediately after the spring melt, to observe seasonal and intermittent springs and streams and spring water volumes

Main Volume, Page 25 Section 3.2.1
-  the environmental assessment report leaves the reader to speculate as to whether the upstream sampling referred to in the first paragraph is that provided by the Kirkland Power Plant, referred to in the next section; this is one example of the ambiguous presentation that plagues the report throughout; clarification is needed as to the source of the data referred to in the section on "Baseline Surface Water Quality"

Main Volume, Page 47 Section 3.4.6
-  the section on "Open Areas" indicates a high level of casual access to the study area, including various walking and snowmobile trails; however, the draft report contains no discussion of the possible consequences or concerns related to this casual access, either in terms of increased exposure to the recreationists, or on the Bennett facility, its security and operation; this casual access by recreational users is also not included or discussed in later sections on 3.8.2, except for brief reference to the snowmobile trail

Main Volume, Page 50 Section 3.5
-  the study area definition for agriculture appears, appropriately, to include the farming community and agricultural lands south of the proposed facility, ie. Timiskaming District, south to approximately Haileybury; however, throughout the entire discussion of agriculture, there appears no reference, discussion, or evaluation of the potential affect of the project on the agricultural lands in South Cochrane; the discussion of possible impacts on agriculture needs to be expanded to include South Cochrane, which is also highly agricultural in areas

Main Volume, Page 63 Section 3.5.5
-  the draft report relies on southern Ontario-only data for its discussion of "Value of Agriculture-Related Businesses"; this discussion should be in the context of proposed location of the facility, ie. Timiskaming District; the EA should include a discussion of the role and value of agriculture-related businesses in the Timiskaming economy and social / employment conditions

Main Volume, Page 50-63 Section 3.5
-  the draft environmental assessment report provides considerable - and interesting - information about agriculture in Timiskaming District, but fails to provide adequate examination or analysis of potential effects of the proposed facility on the agricultural sector; for example, it fails to examine - or even identify - issues such as potential effect of the Bennett facility on market perception of Timiskaming agricultural products, or the potential effect on investor confidence, property values etc; while the sections provided are interesting reading and provide useful background, the report fails to address the substantial social, economic and environmental issues related to the proposed facility

Main Volume, Page 67  Section 3.7.1
-  the environmental assessment report states that within a 1.5 kilometre radius of the proposed site, there are areas with residential, commercial and industrial land uses but then describes the proposed site as located within an isolated area, (underlining added for emphasis) after which the environmental assessment report describes in more detail the many residences, businesses and social facilities in the immediate area; the Bennett perception of the proposed site as isolated is unexplained and inexplicable

Main Volume, Page 67 Section 3.7.2
-  this section on recreational resources contains no discussion of the recreational uses referenced in Section 3.4.6; in one or both of these sections, the consequence of the casual access to the site for recreational purposes should be discussed in adequate detail

Main Volume, Page 72  Section 3.8.2
-  the draft assessment report identifies that the proportion of the population in the "5-19 years" age group is higher in the site vicinity study area than in both Kirkland Lake and Ontario but does not discuss this finding in relation to the proposed facility and exposure rates as they are experienced by this age group in particular

Main Volume, Page 73 Section 3.8.2
-  this section of the draft environmental assessment report provides one example of the document's recurring failure to provide references or sources for information; in this section, a two paragraph quote is provided, without reference or source; while the statement does not appear to be of any particular consequence in terms of Bennett's conclusions, the persistent failure to identify or reference source material is problematic
 

Section 4 - Description of Potential Environmental Effects

As with previous sections, the description of potential environmental effects is plagued by omission and unsupported assumption. The failure to address several of the items areas required by  the Terms of Reference - exposure through consumption of wildlife, through drinking water, through dermal contact while swimming, all of which are acknowledged by Bennett as having been excluded, despite direction in the TOR to address them. Not acknowledged , but also excluded, were exposure through indoor air, airborne dusts, and dermal contact with soils and dust - is unsupportable, and indicated either a level of serious misunderstanding or a disrespect for the EA review process on Bennett's part. Equally troubling is the failure to support key assumptions, particularly with respect to the effects of exposure to harmful releases on human health or the natural environment.

Main Volume, Page 89 - 93 Section 4.1 and 4.2
-  throughout these sections, the environmental assessment report provides conclusions that the net effect is "neutral" , without providing any evidence or rationale for such a conclusion

Main Volume, Page 91 Section 4.1
-  the draft environmental assessment report states that if Bennett encounters material contaminated with organic compounds not evaluated, an appraisal of the compounds concentration and properties will have to be made to determine how it would behave, and what the resulting health and environmental risk would be compared with the evaluated compounds"; this section requires a great the deal of expansion, including a description of the quality control and monitoring process by which Bennett can be confident that it will identify new substances, the role of the regulators and public in the review and evaluation, and the evaluation of risk and decisions on whether or how to proceed.

Main Volume, Page 122 Section 4.13.1
-  the draft environmental assessment report refers to chemicals of potential concern (COPC)but does not identify or describe these chemicals; such identification and description should be included in future drafts of the main volume of the submission, with a discussion of their chemical nature and behaviour, and potential environmental and health impacts, discussed on a substance-by-substance basis
-  the draft environmental assessment report indicates that game consumption was not considered significant (it is not clear if it was evaluated) on the basis of wildlife consumption rates being generally lower than local beef consumption and the wildlife receptors having very large home ranges; without prejudice to any future comment we might make with respect to the assertions made by Bennett with respect to the need to evaluate large ungulate receptors, we note now that the statements made wholly fail to explain why other wildlife, such as rabbit and beaver, were not evaluated; these are commonly consumed as country food, have smaller ranges, and could prove to be a significant pathway for exposure
-  this section fails to describe and demonstrate consideration of key mechanisms such as bioaccumulation and biomagnification

Main Volume, Page 123  Section 4.13.2.1 (Air)
-  the draft environmental assessment report fails to adequately explain why only respiratory irritants were considered under upset conditions
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 123  Section 4.13.2.2 (Drinking Water)
-  the draft environmental assessment report should include a discussion of exposure through drinking water because a) it is required by the Terms of Reference, b) the municipal water treatment system is not designed for or is capable of treating the majority of toxic substances that will potentially be released by the Bennett facility and c) not all drinking water in the potentially impacted area is provided through municipal services, ie. there are also surface and well water supplies, including domestic wells within 2 kilometres of the site. We note that these wells are known to  the authors of Bennett's EA reports (see Appendix C-1, page 20)
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 123 Section 4.13.2.3 (Surface Soil)
-  the draft environmental assessment report indicates that estimates are only for the operational life of the facility; some rationale for this decision must be provided; alternatively, a more reasonable approach would be to estimate exposure from soil for an extended period of time, given the persistent nature of the chemicals being treated and the substances which are (potentially) to be released
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

.Main Volume, Page 124 Section 4.13.2.4 (Agriculture and Home Garden Produce)
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 124 Section 4.13.2.5 (Fish Consumption)
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions
-  the draft environmental assessment report should include a full description of what modifications were made with respect to how the proposed facility would handle certain pesticides as a result of this particular exposure pathway; the draft environmental assessment report should also describe what other modifications would be possible in order to further reduce exposure, but which were not made to the proposed facility, and the basis for selecting the chosen modifications

Main Volume, Page 124 Section 4.13.2.6   (Mother's Milk)
-  the draft environmental assessment report should expand this description and discussion of this exposure pathway
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 125 Section 4.13.3
-  the draft environmental assessment report should include evaluation and discussion of exposure through dermal contact while swimming because a) it is required by the Terms of Reference, b) it is a recognized exposure pathway and c) recreational swimming areas are within the area that will be potentially impacted (certainly within the 50 km study area for air quality)
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 125 Section 4.13.4
-  in addition to the failure to address exposure through wildlife consumption, drinking water and dermal contact while swimming, which are acknowledged in preceding sections, this section of the EA should also note that several other exposure pathways included in Table 4 of the Terms of Reference (and so required areas of discussion in the EA) have been omitted, including indoor air, airborne dusts, and dermal contact with soils and dust. Alternatively - and more reasonably - the EA document should address these required areas.

Main Volume, Page 127 Section 4.14.2.1 Air
-  ingestion being the major pathway of concern does not eliminate exposure as a result of direct air and dust inhalation as an exposure pathway; exposure as a result of direct air and dust inhalation as an exposure pathway for wildlife should be included, as per the Terms of Reference
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 127 Section 4.14.2.2 Drinking Water
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 127 Section 4.14.2.3 Surface Soil
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 128 Section 4.14.2.4  Agriculture and Home Garden Produce
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 128 Section 4.14.2.5 Fish Consumption
-  the draft environmental assessment report proposes that an estimate of baseline impacts using conservative modelling techniques suggested potential impacts to fish eating and invertebrate-eating birds and mammals is a result of the conservatism inherent in the modelling techniques .... rather than suggesting potential ecological impacts to wildlife under current conditions ...; this interesting supposition should be supported by a discussion of the overall reliability of modelling, the strengths and weaknesses of the modelling techniques employed in the preparation of the draft environmental assessment report, and the alternative approaches (to these modelling techniques) which Bennett considered in determining the best approach for the EA's development
-  the evaluation should include releases as a result of upset conditions

Main Volume, Page 129 Section 4.14.4.
-  the proposal that background exposures could be reevaluated using site-specific soil and earthworm concentrations raised a number of questions about what data was used, what assumptions were made, and how reliable the results are of the modelling to arrive at conclusions represented throughout the draft environmental assessment report; as per our comment on Section  4.14.2.5, matters related to modelling should be discussed in detail in the next draft of the EA report

-  we found no discussion of any findings with respect to combined exposures, ie. the combined effect of exposure to several substances, or the combined effect of exposure to releases from several industrial sources; with respect to the latter, the most obvious need would be to examine the combined effect of releases from TCI - both at their current operating level and using a scenario that includes current and expanded operations, should their application to add a thermal desorption unit be approved - and Bennett's proposed facility.
 

Section 5 - Advantages and Disadvantages of the Undertaking

The main submission arrives at is extreme in terms of arriving at unsupported conclusions, and making absolute statements which are in conflict with facts presented elsewhere. While Section 4 (and its supporting appendices) is deeply flawed, it does, at least to a fraction of the degree appropriate, acknowledge that there will be releases to the environment, and that the releases will be of substances which are of environmental concern. Section 5, in contrast, boldly declares that while the proposed facility will not improve on the existing environment in every area, it won't impact the existing facility either. This statement is not only unsupportable, it is outrageous.

While the report was, at best, struggling for credibility, the Bennett discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the undertaking robs it of any small shred of credibility a generous reviewer may have granted it. Unless and until Bennett produces a discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the undertaking that reflects any acknowledgement of the effects and risks related to the proposed facility, it is unreasonable to expect reviewers - public or government - to expend any effort in its review. For the purpose of the current review of the draft submission, the required discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the undertaking should be considered to be absent from the materials provided.
 

Section 6 - Public Consultation

The description of the public consultation program is, in our view, misleading. It fails to provide important details in several cases, is inaccurate or incorrect in its description of several of the parties, and does not provide a fair or objective description of the public consultation program. We note that, as in other areas of the report, Bennett acknowledges no weaknesses in their consultation program, nor do they identify any difficulties encountered.

Main Volume, Page 134-138 Section 6, 6.1
-  the draft environmental assessment report does not include important details about the public consultation program, including length of notice period and means of notice prior to each open house, availability of materials before and at the open house to provide public with more detailed information, etc.

Main Volume, Page 139 Section 6.1.2.1
-  this section misrepresents the Timiskmaing First Nation and their actions taken with respect to this review process
-  the description of the Teme Augama Ansihnabai is incorrect
-  the draft environmental assessment report is unclear in explaining why the cancellation of the meeting with Beaverhouse resulted in cancellation of the meeting with the Teme Augama Anshnabai

Main Volume, Page 141 Section 6.1.2.5
-  this section provides a very poor explanation with respect to the meeting (which did not take place) between the Timiskaming Federation of Agriculture and Bennett

Main Volume, Page 143 Section 6.1.44
-  the draft environmental assessment report should provide more detail on the membership, role and function of the Citizens Advisory Committee, including how it was established, original membership, how it has interacted with the public, rules of operating, etc.
 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these draft documents. We share what we certainly hope to be the Ministry's view that the environmental assessment must be conducted in a fair and responsible fashion, and must be thorough in its examination of all aspects of a project. Given this view, and based on our review of the Bennett draft environmental assessment reports, we expect the Ministry of the Environment to either require Bennett Environmental Inc. to address the many and serious deficiencies in their work to date, or advise BEI to withdraw their request for approval, given their inability to demonstrate the safety and acceptability of this proposed hazardous waste incinerator.

Yours,
 
 
 

Brennain Lloyd
Northwatch
 

cc. Mr. Danny Ponn, Bennett Environmental Inc.
 Hon. Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of the Environment
 Mr. Paul Muldoon, Executive Director, Canadian Environmental Law Association