Is a referendum in order?

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There is dissension in the Pontiac, as to the wisdom of embarking on a project to host an incinerator, to deal with residual waste (what’s left, after organics and recyclable materials are sorted out of the waste stream). The Warden has stated that “unanimity is not necessary” for this project to go forward. That may be legally true, but I would feel a lot better about it, if there was at least majority approval. The people of Pontiac will live with the consequences of such a project, for a long, long time.

The price; this is a HUGE undertaking, and so far as I’ve seen, there is no way to down-scale it to local manageability. In other words, we can’t build an incinerator to handle just our own garbage.

The ash left over after incineration; there are conflicting figures, about how much there is left at the end of  incineration. I have no means of testing that, and I doubt that you do either, so we’re left to wonder how much remains.; 7%…or as much as 30%?  Do we know, or are we taking someone else’s word for it? I have seen a sample, and it was an amorphous grey jar of…well, ash. Is it highly toxic? Without chemically testing each batch, we just don’t know. I see no reason it should be any more toxic than the garbage that people handled before it left their households.

The electrical power generated by steam; that’s a bonus, a tip for good service. It’s not going to insure that we have power, when the grid shuts down, and won’t amount to any great reduction in the price of electricity we use locally.  The steam heat available; forget it, that’s not really a thing. At the facility in Durham, the Hydro One office building right next door is NOT heated by the excess steam from the incinerator. If it’s not being done there, it will not be done in Pontiac, with no significant buildings near the proposed site. Steam does not transport over distances well.

The jobs promised; That’s a phenomenon that I’ve seen exaggerated over and over. Remember LiveWell? 300 jobs promised dwindled to 30 jobs, dwindled to 3 jobs, and then the whole notion disappeared. It will require a bunch of people to build such a facility, and several people to operate it afterward. I will not be one of them. Inside the facility, it is dusty and noisy, though no more so than the furnace floor of the Chromasco plant, which used to be just across the river.

So, have I debunked the whole project? I don’t think so; because we still own a lot of garbage, and I’m still waiting to hear about the “many other ways” of dealing with that ongoing situation. One suggestion I heard lately was to “send it to Mars”. See above; HUGE undertaking, and commensurately expensive. We need at least a dozen more ideas, more practical than that.  Focus on this one consideration – what will we do with our garbage?

Robert Wills
Thorne and Shawville