Friday, August 28, 2015

Dr. Paul Connett speaks against proposed Crowsnest/Pincher Creek landfill incinerator

Dr. Paul Connett
T. Lucas photos and video
Toni Lucas with notes from Chris Davis

Dr. Paul Connett is a outspoken opponent of incineration, and anti-fluoridation activist. He held a presentation in the Cowley Community Hall on Wednesday, August 26, a day after he appeared as a delegation at the regular meeting of council for the MD of Pincher Creek on Tuesday, August 25. Dr. Connett holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry, specializing in environmental chemistry and toxicology.

The videos below contain most of Dr. Connett's presentation in Cowley.

Delphine Crayford and David Green acted as emcees for Connett's well received presentation in Cowley. The presentation was attended by close to 100 people, with around 40 staying for the question and answer period at the end. During the presentation Connett urged what he called a zero waste solution, he addressed sustainability, and spoke out against the incinerator that is currently proposed for the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill, which is located south of Lundbreck and Cowley, west of Pincher Creek.

Connett authored the book 'The Zero Waste Solution'. He explained "The subtitle of this book is untrashing the planet, one community at a time." Connett said there must be a global solution to the trash problems faced by communities worldwide, which have to be adopted and implemented at a community level. He said became involved in the waste management debate in 1985 after becoming involved in a local incinerator battle. 

In the intervening 30 years he said he has been to 49 states in USA, 7 provinces in Canada, and to 62 different countries to address the issue of incinerators. "I helped citizens defeat approximately 300 incinerator projects," said Connett at his presentation to MD council. "We haven't built a new incinerator in the United States since 1997."

During his Cowley presentation Connett first offered an alternative to incineration. He told the audience his ten step plan to zero waste and explained each step in depth. 

Connett's 10 step plan to zero waste:
  1. Source separation
  2. Door to Door Collection
  3. Composting
  4. Recycling
  5. Reuse, repair, and de-construction
  6. Waste Reduction Initiatives
  7. Economic Incentives
  8. Residual Separation and Research
  9. Better Industrial Design and changed consumer behaviour
  10. Temporary Landfill

Connett said these ten steps are better for the economy, create more jobs and more social justice, and are better for the health of the individuals and the well being of the planet. He added that the practices he outlined have been adopted in various communities and countries across the planet with a marked measure of success. He named San Francisco, Italy, Spain, Sicily, Wales, Brazil, Ireland, Philippines, Italy, and Ontario as some areas that are on various stages of adopting these strategies.

Slideshow image
Connett said he is very concerned with sustainability. explaining that modern consumption patterns in developed countries have resulted in a situation where we do not have enough resources to provide for every person currently on the planet. "Clearly, something has got to change, and the best place to start that change is waste." He said there has to be change at an industrial level as well, and he believes that can be influenced by social pressure. He explained people have to send industry the message, "If we can’t reuse it, recycle it or compost it, industry shouldn't be making it, we need better industrial design for the 21st century."

Connett then tackled the topic of incineration. He explained how incinerators work, their capacities, and their negative effects. He talked about how size for incinerators ranges from 10 to 3000 tons per day. He said the incinerator being discussed for the Pincher Creek Landfill is a 10 to 20 tonne per day batch-fed dual chamber incinerator made by Eco Waste Systems (EWS). "It's not a sustainable solution," According to Connett incineration is extremely expensive, creates very few jobs, and is a waste of energy even when used for heating. He claims more energy is saved at the global level by recycling and reusing products, and composting.

He discussed the by-products of incineration, including ash and emissions, touching on how these can affect the environment surrounding an incinerator. There are issues of toxins, including dioxins, furans and toxic metals. He said that there are real concerns of toxins in any area and especially in areas where the food chain could be affected. For the human equation he said people in areas with incinerators report respiratory problems, increased asthma rates, and he is highly concerned about neurotoxins released as pollutants.

"Incineration is in the past."

"Our task in the 21st century is not to find better ways to destroy discarded materials, but to stop making packaging and products that have to be destroyed."

During the question and answer period he addressed a number of concerns and appeared to be very frustrated that the local landfill currently makes a profit taking in waste from other communities. He sees this as a very risky choice, and expressed concerns this imported intake will be added to the incinerator. "You have had some gullible people that have seen it's a good idea to get into the waste business."

When speaking to MD of Pincher Creek's council he said "I suggest you find out where that 5 million dollars came from. What was the waste that was put into your local landfill that earned you 5 million dollars? Where did it come from, what was the waste?" At the Cowley presentation he remarked, "It's a non-profit organization apparently, making a lot of profit."

"It makes the incinerator more frightening when you realize some people in this are seeing the landfill as a profit making company."

"What is the basis of that profit? The basis of that profit is the communities more intelligent than you are prepared to pay to get rid of this waste from their communities or their factories. And they are paying you, because you're dumb enough to take it."

"Basically, I think the planet is a struggle now between corporations, looting corporations, and there are good corporations out there, corporations that we need, they are not looting, they are providing really fabulous things, and communities. The future of the planet is poised between the big power of these looting corporations and grassroots communities that are trying to protect their communities."

He suggested a watchdog committee,  getting baseline data regarding chemical levels in the area before the incinerator is installed, and investigation to find out who are the outside communities and companies using the local landfill and what kind of waste they dump here. He indicated strong community support, organization, and governmental support would be needed to change the direction of installing an incinerator. He believes this has already started in this area. "This was a great turnout today, trust me. I was only expecting 20 people."

A colourful presenter

Connett was told the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek landfill is committed to a recycling program. "Incineration does not marry with recycling. It's like putting a tiger in bed with a lamb. You don't get tiglets, you get little chunks of lamb. The incinerator devours the recycling program. The incinerator will attract all the money, all the political clout, and that's what's going to be fed."

Although it was a very in depth and serious presentation, there were moments of levity. Connett spoke of a recycling area in Sweden where a dog helps people put mixed recyclables in the correct choice of one of six recycling bins. "If a dog in Sweden can do that, I'm sure we can train our citizens to separate into three."

During the question and answer period when no one was stepping up to the microphone he told a story of going to university with John Cleese, how he admired Cleese's enthusiasm on the soccer field, as they were teammates.

To wrap up the presentation portion of the evening he sung 'The Battle Hymn of Garbage', based on the melody of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic', leading those who joined in:

The Battle Hymn of Garbage

While we recognize our landfills 
All are swelling with the waste 
That doesn’t justify 
a bad decision made in haste 
Let us put our heads together 
So the problem may be faced 
And we must do it now!
We don’t want incineration 
We don’t want incineration 
We don’t want incineration 
We know there’s a better way!

Mine eyes have seen the garbage
That’s a smoldering on the grate
We must stop incineration
Before it is too late
Unless we wish the dangers
We had better separate
And we must do it now!

We don’t want incineration 
We don’t want incineration 
We don’t want incineration 
We know there’s a better way!

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