Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The saga continues - more problems with scrapyard metal cutting emissions!

Hamilton has a growing number of active scrapyards.  Environment Hamilton continues to track activities at Hamilton scrap yards because many of them want to or are already using oxypropane metal cutting torches to cut up large pieces of metal.  The problem is this - these torches generate significant air emissions if not properly controlled. And, in our experience, there has been a chronic problem in this community (we're talking for many years now) with yards that have failed to properly control these cutters.  Emissions generated from cutting include high levels of fine particulate matter (small enough that we inhale it but our lungs have a hard time getting it back out), heavy metals, and various other chemicals.  Quite frankly, we at Environment Hamilton have come to conclude that effectively controlling these cutters in an open scrapyard setting is not a viable option. We are pushing for the provincial Ministry of the Environment to require those yards that opt to use these cutters, to use them in indoor facilities with proper pollution control.

This past holiday weekend provided more support for our point of view.  Triple M Metals has a scrap yard located at the very end of Parkdale Avenue North and on the south edge of the Windermere Basin.   The company has an air permit from the Ministry of the Environment that includes approval for the use of oxypropane cutting torches.  That permit required the company to develop and implement a 'best management practices' protocol to ensure that the air emissions from the cutting torches was minimized.   Well, so much for best management practices......   Yesterday (Holiday Monday), I came across this scene as I cycled through Windermere Basin Park in the east end of the city:

We've lodged a formal complaint with the Hamilton District Office of the Ministry of the Environment.   Clearly, Triple M is not following best practices.  This situation continued on yesterday like this for the 45+ minutes that I was down in the area.   We can't tolerate this sort of behaviour in Hamilton!

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment has explained to us that they have required other yards (including Sunrise Metals - a yard we've reported on already because of their serious cutting emissions) to use a best management practices protocol already in use by another local scrapyard.  While the MOE won't confirm this, we know that it's Triple M's protocol they're requiring the other yards to follow.  We've asked for a copy of the protocol the MOE is making other yards use, but have been told that the protocol is 'proprietary information'. Hmmm..... we've pointed out that, because MOE is using the protocol for regulatory purposes, the public should be able to obtain and review it.  It looks as though we'll need to submit a Freedom of Information request to get a copy - but after what we saw this past weekend, we want to know that much more what the best management practices protocol actually requires.  Either it's being blatantly ignored by players like Triple M, or it's far from being a 'best management practices' protocol!

REMEMBER - If you ever see emissions like this coming from a local scrapyard, take the time to report what you see to the provincial Ministry of the Environment.  During regular office hours, call them at (905) 521-7650 or after hours at 1-800-268-6060.  Ideally, you'll need to be prepared to provide the name/address of the facility.  Taking a photo is always a great idea too!  And feel free to contact us here at EH if you see these problems.  We can help with documenting and reporting!

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