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Lafarge's tire-burning plan goes to court

The Lafarge cement plant near Brookfield plans to burn about 400,000 discarded tires at its kiln during a one-year pilot project.
The Lafarge cement plant near Brookfield plans to burn about 400,000 discarded tires at its kiln during a one-year pilot project. - SaltWire Network

HALIFAX, N.S. – The province’s approval of a one-year pilot project to burn discarded tires at the Lafarge Canada cement plant near Brookfield will have to pass a Nova Scotia Supreme Court test.

Environment Minister Iain Rankin gave the project the initial green light in July but a group of concerned residents filed for a judicial review of the ministerial decision.

“Imagine basing the research for the burning of 20 tonnes of whole tires per day (a tire a minute) in an old cement kiln on a science laboratory experiment using not whole tires but scraps of tires,” Lydia Sorflaten, who lives about 500 metres from the mill, said in summarizing the arguments the group’s lawyer will make before the court. “How could a ‘pilot project’ of this magnitude have been put forward with such a flimsy base?”

The group maintains that the minister’s decision failed to properly consult the public, to protect human health and to prevent pollution.

Rankin has said in the past that his decision was based on the science and evidence associated with the application, primarily from research done by Prof. Mark Gibson at Dalhousie University, along with public feedback, which helped to shape the conditions of the approval.

“I’m a regulator,” Rankin has said. “I have to take my job as environment minister very seriously and look at the evidence in any application.”

The company’s plan to burn about 400,000 discarded tires in its kiln has been supported by $2 million in plant upgrades. The company has said it would not be ready to burn tires until late summer or fall.

The judicial review was held Tuesday and will continue Wednesday at the law courts in Halifax.

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