Province's decision to allow Lafarge plant to burn tires as fuel draws criticism

The province's decision to let the Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield burn tires for fuel is not sitting well with a number of people and groups.

Fred Blois, who was part of a residents group that lost a court bid for a judicial review of the project's environmental approval, says the department's approval process has become nothing more than a ``licence to commit harm.''

NDP critic Lenore Zann says while it's a win for the company, it's ``ridiculous'' the province is experimenting with burning tires in 2018.

Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre says Divert NS doesn't have the moral authority to collect an environmental fee on tires which will be given to a company to burn, not recycle tires.

Butler also says that once the tire burning infrastructure is in place at the Lafarge plant it will be difficult for government to reverse the decision to burn tires, regardless of monitoring and test results. 

Environment Minister Margaret Miller defends the decision to allow Lafarge to conduct a one-year pilot project to incinerate tires, saying it will help the province meet its environmental goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Lafarge plans to burn about 20 tonnes of tires a day -  as much as 5,200 tonnes a year - in place of fossil fuels such as coal and petcoke used to manufacture Portland cement, a basic ingredient of concrete.

Under the plan, the province's waste diversion agency is expected to shift a supply of about 280,000 tires annually to Lafarge.

The environment department says the company will have to do air quality monitoring at regular intervals when the kiln is operating and will be required to monitor groundwater and surface water in the area.

Industrial approvals are normally issued for 10 years, but the province says the shorter period approved for Lafarge allows the province to ensure that terms and conditions are being met and can be modified to ensure the environment and human health are protected.

~ With files from The Canadian Press