OHSWEKEN – About 50 community members gathered at the Six Nations Landfill Site yesterday morning to let John Kearns of Kearns International know that his system for disposing of the community’s waste was no longer welcome on the territory.
Spokesperson Derek Sandy told the Two Row Times that a group of concerned community members have tried to approach SNEC at least three times now to express their concerns about potentially toxic chemicals that are released into the air through the smokestacks of his machine. A number of residents living near Kearns’ machine have complained about the unit emitting bad smells and black smoke.
One resident who lives next to the landfill site was afraid to speak out in fear of losing his job, but he told the Two Row Times that shortly after the incinerator started operation, one of his children moved to Brantford to escape the smell. “I smell it all the time, I know exactly when that machine back there is running because I can smell it and see the smoke.”
Many of the protestors told Kearns that they feel like they are being used as guinea pigs and are afraid for their own health and the health of their children. “Down the road, what happens if one of my children gets cancer from this machine? That’s why we are here today, to prevent that from happening,” one concerned man told a Six Nations Constable who were also on the scene to make sure a peaceful assembly was being maintained.
One worker of the Six Nations Landfill Site was handing out information sheets on the hazards of waste incineration, which was taken from a study done by Greenpeace. Some of the information stated: “Rather than making waste disappear, incinerators create more toxic waste that pose a significant threat to public health and the environment.”
“Incineration is often touted as an alternative to landfilling. However, what many people do not realize is that incinerator ashes are contaminated with heavy metals, unburned chemicals and new chemicals formed during the burning process. These ashes are then buried in landfill or dumped in the environment.”
The Two Row Times took a walk behind the building where the incinerator is housed and witnessed a container where the ash comes out of the machine which was filled with half burned materials. Also a pile of ash mixed with half burned garbage was located at the foot of a pond behind the building and looked like it was being dumped right in the pond.
Dr. Paul Connett, a retired professor of chemistry, and long time opponent of waste incineration, spoke with Two Row Times a few weeks ago. Dr. Connett warned Six Nations that any type of waste incineration would prove detrimental to the surrounding community. “What you need to be concerned with, with Kearns’ machine, is nano-particles,” stated Dr. Connett.
Nano-particles are very tiny particles that not even the most advanced incinerator is unable to destroy. “Furthermore,” explained Dr. Connett, “because they are so tiny, there is no type of air quality testing that can detect nano-particles.” So even if SNEC hires a company to conduct an air quality test around the incinerator, something they’ve been talking about doing for a while now, the air quality test cannot detect nano-particles.
Various studies have shown that nano-particles can cause cancers and birth defects among many other effects.
Dr. Connett warned, “Don’t get John Kearns confused with an expert. I am an expert and a scientist on waste incineration, Kearns is not, he is a business man.” Dr. Connett has also offered to come to Six Nations at no cost and to debate Kearns on the issue of waste incineration and his machine.
SNEC Public Works Director, Mike Montour showed up and asked the group gathered around him, “What are you all looking to get out of this?” One woman told Montour, “We need to think of alternative solutions to just burning the garbage. We’re sick of being this guy’s guinea pigs. We’re concerned about what is coming out of those smokestacks. We’re concerned about carcinogens. We’re concerned about him dumping all that toxic ash in the ponds behind and beside his incinerator. Why aren’t you guys supporting the recycling company here?” Montour told her, “We do support recycling but it just isn’t enough.” Despite Montour’s claims of supporting the new recycling company which is also located at the Landfill Site, SNEC went ahead and sold a brand new recycling truck which they never used, in an auction a couple of weeks back.
The Two Row Times spoke with one of the workers at the recycling depot at the landfill site. “Before we came on the scene, there was only 2% of the community that were actively recycling. In the past six months, we’ve seen an 18% increase in people recycling on Six Nations.” Part of that spike may be due to the recycling company being willing to go door-to-door throughout the community to pick up recycling at no extra cost.
Despite community attempts to bring in experts to the SNEC to have them at least listen to what they have to say on the hazards and dangers of waste incineration, it seems their voices are not being heard, or rather are being ignored.
The assembly at the incineration site ended peacefully with police escorting John Kearns off the property.