St. Marys mayor stunned by low 'financial...
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Jan 21, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

St. Marys mayor stunned by low 'financial assurance' estimate

St. Marys Journal Argus

Stew Slater

St. Marys Journal Argus

With a report that St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee claimed made him feel like he had “just been hit over the head with a baseball bat,” Town of St. Marys Environmental Coordinator Dave Blake revealed last week that the amount of money required up-front by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOE) from Green Arc Tire, in the event of clean-up needs if the business is unsuccessful, is far less than Strathdee — and at least two other members of Town Council — expected.

In a subsequent message to the Journal Argus, however, an MOE spokesperson clarified that the amount of so-called “financial assurance” is not yet set in stone for the not-yet-operational tire remanufacturing business that’s set to open on James Street South in St. Marys.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13, Blake provided to Town councillors a list of 11 concerns the Town raised with the MOE in response to the most recent application by Green Arc for Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for its projected solid waste. A second public comment period was opened for the ECA application after Green Arc revised its planned year-one production targets; that comment period closed last week.

On the list of concerns raised by the Town, among others, are: Informing the MOE that the St. Marys landfill no longer accepts tires or tire shavings; that “current fire suppression systems on site are not adequate for the proposed tire storage”; a request for a longer period of “complaint tracking”; and “concerns with water management in the event of an emergency situation such as a fire.”

Number three on the list, however, is about the amount of “financial assurance” required from Green Arc up front. Blake told councillors his research came up with a figure of $22,439, and suggested that figure is based on the projected cost for cleaning up only the tires on site that did not originate in Ontario. According to Blake, the MOE believes non-Ontario tires will not exceed 10 per cent of the Green Arc total, and that the cost of clean-up of Ontario tires would be covered by the Ontario Tire Stewardship program and would not need to be accounted for in the financial assurance.

The concern expressed by the Town in its response to the ECA application’s public comment period is that it’s possible that a greater percentage of tires on site would be from outside Ontario, so the financial assurance should be increased.

But the mayor and two councillors made it clear they feel additional concerns about the financial assurance should also have been raised.

Van Galen said the Ministry should be taking into account the chemicals that are on site for the tire remanufacturing process, as well as risks such as fire risk, when the financial assurance is calculated.

“Obviously, there’s a much higher level of risk than just a bunch of tires that need to be disposed of. It’s unbelievable,” he said of Blake’s estimate.

The Mayor, after first making the “baseball bat” comment about his initial reaction to the environment coordinator’s report, said he had engaged in discussions with MOE representatives and “I certainly was led to believe that (the financial assurance) was going to be something substantial.”

Councillor Jim Craigmile agreed, saying “we assumed it would be a much larger dollar value.”

Responding by email to Journal Argus questions about the issue, the district manger of the MOE’s London office, Rob Wrigley, confirmed that a level of financial assurance has been required from Green Arc. But he countered Blake’s certainty about the dollar value, noting instead that the amount “is currently being reviewed by the ministry.”

Wrigley added that “financial assurance is estimated based on a number of considerations, including quotes for the disposal of the amount of waste that may be on a site at any one time, as well as the estimated costs for decommissioning, clean-up and closure of the facility.”

In addition, it “is set out in ministry guidelines and is well established for waste disposal sites,” and “is also required to be re-evaluated every three years.”

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