21 January 2011

Mill shelves controversial tire burning proposal on eve of by-election

Corner Brook Pulp and Paper quietly shelved a controversial proposal to burn tires as part of the mill’s power generation on the eve of  a provincial by-election.

Word came late Friday in a routine statement from the provincial environment department on applications under environmental protection laws.

The provincial environment minister was supposed to rule in December on a proposal from the west coast paper mill.  The provincial government postponed that decision to January 15 claiming that it had received more public submissions on the project than it could handle by the initial deadline.

While the initial announcement of the proposal met with little public reaction, a series of protests, letters to the editor and a Facebook campaign made it clear some area residents strongly opposed the tire burning idea.

The second deadline came and went with the excuse that the minister newly appointed on January 13 needed time to review the proposal.  Shortly afterward, the minister’s office indicated he’d have an announcement by week’s end.

The decision to shelve the proposal comes on the eve of a by-election to fill a Corner Brook seat in the provincial legislature vacated by Danny Williams, who quit politics in early December.

Both opposition parties pledged to make the proposal a key issue in the by-election but by Friday only the Liberals had a candidate to face the Conservatives.  Mark Watton, a lawyer who had previously been a political staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office and chief of staff to cabinet minister Ken Dryden, is expected to be the only person to seek the Liberal nomination that closes on Friday.

On  Wednesday, high school principal Vaughan Granter won the Conservative nomination.

Friday’s decision by Corner Brook Pulp and paper doesn’t necessarily remove the tire proposal.  The mill could bring the proposal back after the by-election.  At the same time, the provincial environment department ships used car and truck tires to facilities in Quebec for burning.

- srbp -