St. Marys Journal Argus
A 45-day “public review and comment period” was provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) in the spring of 2014 for the proposal by Green Arc Tire Manufacturing to establish a tire remanufacturing facility on James Street South in St. Marys. But the ministry is currently awaiting proof from the Toronto area-based company that it provided adequate information to adjacent landowners about the process.
According to Senior Review Engineer David Lee, who’s overseeing the waste disposal aspects of the MOE’s “Environmental Compliance Approval” (ECA) into Green Arc’s proposal, the company was required to “notify adjacent landowners” about the public review — which ran from March 19 to May 3 — and make them aware of the contact information through which comments could be made. But he said ministry officials have requested “proof of this notification” from the company, “and it has not yet been provided.”
Lee’s counterpart for the air emissions aspects of Green Arc’s ECA, Senior Engineer Bijal Shah, confirmed to the Journal Argus that “the Ministry received three emails from nearby property owners” in response to the comment period. Information about the review and comment period is available on the MOE’s Environment Registry website, and a full version of the Green Arc proposal is available on request from the MOE’s regional office in London.
Stew Cardiff, president of Shepherd Gourmet Dairy, which operates a dairy processing facility immediately south of the Green Arc property, said in a message to the Journal Argus that “it is very disappointing to our company that we recently found out only through our own investigation that the Ministry of Environment notified the Town of St. Marys on March 18, 2014 of the application of two permits by Green Arc. These permits are to allow Green Arc to discharge potentially harmful airborne gases such as benzene, toluene and styrene and secondly to store over 5 million kg of waste on their site.”
“Considering this property is surrounded on three sides by food factories and is also upwind of a major residential development, I am very concerned that the leadership in our town is not looking after the existing businesses and citizens.”
Town of St. Marys CAO Kevin McLlwain told the Journal Argus it’s “entirely up to the company” to inform adjacent landowners about the public consultation process. He added the Town has submitted its own documentation to the MOE regarding its role.
“The town would certainly participate in any Open Houses the company hosts, and help promote them, but it’s entirely up to the company to meet the requirements of the public consultation process,” McLlwain said.
Cardiff said he agrees “jobs are important,” but added “it would be a shame if any of the three food factories surrounding the Green Arc location providing reliable employment were forced to reduce, relocate or close, due to this obvious risk. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is taking this very seriously due to the millions of people weekly who enjoy the fine food produced in our Town by our local employees.”
Other nearby food processing facilities include Heinz and Solis Foods.
And he reiterated his criticism of the Town for not keeping people informed.
“Our town’s lack of communication of these permit applications has caused public feedback deadlines to now pass,” Cardiff argued. “This lack of public notice now needs to be challenged.”
An Aug. 27 news release from Green Arc communications specialist Danna O’Brien said, “Ontario’s Ministry of Environment has given Green Arc Tire the green light to start preparing the plant for production.” The news release also quoted company CEO Mike DiCenzo, saying, “we’ve been given the go ahead to install everything from boilers and compressors to buffing machines,” and that “several tradespeople are also on site . . . constructing interior walls, painting and preparing the shop floor for equipment.”
Responding to a request to speak directly with DiCenzo, O’Brien told the Journal Argus he was unavailable. But the Aug. 27 Green Arc news release — although it suggested the MOE is allowing the company to “start preparing” — stopped short of saying production would begin soon.
“We want to make sure the plant is ready for production once the (MOE) issues the ECA,” DiCenzo is quoted as saying.
Judging from the information provided by Senior Engineers Lee and Shah, there are a number of issues to be dealt with before a possible ECA is granted. Aside from a request for “proof” that the company adequately informed neighbouring landowners about the public review and comment period, both MOE staffers described to the Journal Argus additional requirements that have been communicated to the tire company by the MOE.
“There is an information request that is pending,” Shah confirmed, regarding the air emissions aspects of the Green Arc proposal. The information on the Environmental Registry website, which Shah said was provided by Green Arc, states that “emissions to the atmosphere include styrene, toluene, acetone, benzene, chloroform, carbon black, particulate matter and products of combustion such as nitrogen oxides.” The MOE senior engineer explained the release of all of these substances to the air is admissible under provincial legislation, “but there are some compliance limits that are established by the Ministry.”
What’s being requested from Green Arc, he said, is full confirmation that measures will be undertaken to ensure that emissions from the proposed tire remoulding facility stay below those limits.
Shah said the ministry won’t know what degree of air emission monitoring will be required until the proposal is finalized. “Depending on what kind of operations they are running, that’s how it’s determined if they are required to carry on ongoing monitoring,” he told the Journal Argus. “But there is no standard requirement for all operations for monitoring.”
On the waste disposal side of the ECA application, the Environmental Registry website specifies — again, using information provided by the company — that “site activities will include tire receiving and inspection, buffing, tire preparation (application of os cement and new rubber), vulcanization and final inspection.” The website also notes the “total site area of 17.8 hectares (will) be used for processing up to 140 tonnes per day of solid non-hazardous waste (tires).”
MOE Senior Engineer David Lee said his department has “requested a variety of information” from Green Arc before granting a go-ahead, including additional clarification about emergency response and contingency planning, as well as record-keeping and fire safety.
Neither Shah nor Lee could provide a timeline for when an ECA would be granted. “We have sent a request for further information to (Green Arc’s) consultant, and that’s all that I can say at this point,” Shah commented.
McLlwain, meanwhile, predicted Green Arc would announce Open Houses within the next month, in keeping with public consultation requirements. He also stressed the Town of St. Marys has not yet granted Green Arc any building permits — the only element of the approval process, he noted, over which the town has any authority.