Opinion

The fight over papermill sludge

by Truck News

Here's an interesting development from the world of recycling, in this case the hauling of papermill sludge (a byproduct of paper recycling) and disposing of it on land. It's worth thinking about whether what you're hauling is a material or, sometimes, a waste. There was a public rally yesterday to protest the land application of papermill sludge at a site near Pelham, Ontario. The rally points up the fact that Ontario's Environment Minister Laurel Broten has not followed through with the full application of recommendations from an expert panel assigned to study appropriate handling and disposal of papermill sludge. A letter I received via email from activist Maureen Reilly outlines the position of people opposed to the casual land application of papermill sludge, who are calling for the implementation of the expert panel's recommendations. I've reproduced the letter below with minimal editing, and I've also cut and pasted two other things Maureen sent me: a Hansard transcript of an exchange in the legislature over this issue and also the expert panel's recommendations. Dear Guy: There was a big picket line in the rural community of Pelham, Ontario yesterday, as residents expressed their anger and concern about hundreds of truck loads of industrial papermill sludge dumped in their community. The Ministry of the Environment has failed to implement the recommendations of their own panel of scientists, physicians and experts as to how to manage this sludge material. The experts told the Minister to manage the material as a waste. Instead the material is dumped in rural communities with no waste permits whatsoever. Despite this, Laurel Broton, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, rose in the House to answer questions from Oppositon member Peter Kormos, and lied to the Legislature. She said: "I think it’s important for the people of the community to understand what the expert panel did say. The government’s actions are exactly consistent with what the expert panel said. " OH REALLY? 1. The Expert Panel said that any proposed site to receive the Sound-Sorb material needed a hydrogeological assessment before the sludge arrived. It said a Site Specific Risk Assessment may also need to be undertaken. So where is the hydrogeological assessment for Pelham? Where is the Site Specific Risk Assessment for Pelham? 2. The Expert Panel said the sludge needed to be managed as a waste under a Certificate of Approval. So where is the Certificate of Approval for the site? Why is the sludge hauled by trucks with no waste licence? 3. The Expert Panel said the sludge needed to be composted before it was brought to the site. In fact uncomposted sludge is being brought to the site...so it is not consistent with the recommendations of the Expert Panel. 4. The Minister suggested that the sludge at Pelham had been tested for 90 chemical and bacterial parameters. But the Ontario Minsitry of the Environment refused to provide any test results on the sludge at the Pelham site, and it is not clear that any testing was done at the site. The tests referred to by the Minister are not the same sludge as at the Pelham site. This sludge comes from Abitibi Thorold, a completely different facility than the tests provided to the Expert Panel which were from Atlantic Packaging in Scarborough and Whitby. And since Sound-Sorb is may contain any liquid, industrial or hazardous waste there is no telling what hazardous waste material is being brought to any particular site. Conclusion: The minister should publicly apologize to the Legislature for lying. And the minister should be forced to read aloud the true recommendations of the Expert Panel in the Legislature and immediately implement them. Hansard and expert panel recommendations are pasted below.

Trucking needs a baby boom

by Julia Kuzeljevich

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about something that has suddenly gotten put on the radar: the fact that in many industrialized countries, seniors will soon outnumber the younger, working-age population. In Canada, for example, (according to a Statistics Canada report released late last year), by the year 2015, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. That would be a first in the history of Canada’s population statistics, said the stats agency. Indeed, a worrying trend has emerged in the country: Canada’s fertility rates (the amount of births per woman) are declining dramatically. We essentially are no longer replacing deaths with enough births. The trucking industry has been well aware of such dire predictions for ages. Truckers already constitute, again according to Statistics Canada, an older work force whose average age in 2004 was 42 (45 for the self-employed truckers). Even more worrisome, only 5 % of truck drivers were under 25 in 2004, compared with 15 % in the labour force as a whole, says ‘the Man’s’ Stats division. And trucking will have to compete with many other industries for scarce employee resources. You can’t exactly offshore the profession either! Now demographics don’t happen overnight, but I think the sudden panic was probably encouraged by the fact that in 2006, the oldest Baby Boomers (encompassing those born from 1946 to 1964), turn 60. This wouldn’t normally be problematic because their generation is, as we all know, immortal, but now all sorts of queries and questions are coming out about what shall we all do? There’s no one left to work!

2006: Another record year for truck sales or cause for concern?

by Lou Smyrlis

Class 8 truck sales hit a record 35,984 units in 2005, easily surpassing the previous record of 30,984 set back in 1999. Can 2006 possibly be better? I've been asked that question a lot lately. To be honest I'm struggling with the answer. The January numbers certainly point in that direction with the year off to its fastest start on record. There were 2,441 Class 8 trucks sold in Canada this January, according to records from the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association. In comparison, last year's record year started with 2,173 trucks sold. And the five-year average for the month is just 1,548. But is there enough momentum in the economy and the need for new iron among Canadian fleets and owner/operators to last the entire year?