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Clarington mayor has burning questions over incinerator Add to ...

"People aren't going to drop like flies if this incinerator gets built, but what will happen 10 to 15 years from now?" asks Adrian Foster. "What we do know is that doctors in France are petitioning the government not to build any more incinerators."

Mr. Foster was recently elected mayor of Clarington by ousting his pro-incinerator predecessor.

He thinks health officials may be too sanguine when they say living in the air shed of a smokestack that will burn through 140,000 tonnes of garbage a year is safe, to say nothing of the broader issue of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere.

Mr. Foster says if the new council can delay the decision it might give them more time to consider emerging technologies like waste pelletization, gasification, plasma arc and thermal recycling, processes which burn garbage at higher temperatures to reduce the amount of emissions and waste ash produced.

What's more, he believes the minimum amounts of garbage now promised to the operator may be too high. Coventa will be paid to process the prearranged capacity of the plant, putting Durham on the hook for an amount of trash that closely corresponds to the garbage the region now produces. That means Durham has little incentive to improve its recycling and composting diversion rate through simple measures like mandating the use of clear garbage bags so scofflaws can be identified.

"In effect, we'll be fined if we don't produce enough garbage," says Mr. Foster. "Once it's built, we'll have to feed the beast."

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