P.E.I. MLA outraged at burning of 20K cubic metres of Fiona debris
November 14, 2023
By Caitlin Coombes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
During the fall sitting of the P.E.I. legislative assembly, MLA Jamie Fox criticized Environment Minister Steven Myers for burning 20,000 cubic metres of Fiona debris at the fabrication yard in Borden-Carleton.
Fox explained that he received multiple complaints on Nov. 7 from constituents about air quality concerns.
He said that because of the burning, Silliker Glass, a glass and mirror shop in Borden-Carleton, closed for the day and a school near the burn site considered evacuation.
“Does this not go against everything the province has been trying to lessen our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce carbon output?” Fox asked Myers.
Myers did not answer Fox’s question and said the Department of Transportation was handling the situation.
Myers also said the Department of Environment was not responsible for the air quality issues and assured Fox that the Department of Transportation would handle the situation.
“Any environmental policy shouldn’t evacuate schools,” Myers said.
Myers went on to state that the remnants of the debris would be used as biochar for agricultural purposes, allowing farmers to decrease their use of nitrogen.
Fox continued to question the environment minister on the subject and pressed Myers to explain why the province chose to burn the debris, rather than accept one of the other four bids the province received for the disposal.
Of the five bids, one was to burn the material, and another was to chip and shred the wooden debris.
Fox told the assembly that the incident released as much pollution into the air as driving 3.5 billion kilometres in a modern car.
“I know it’s the minister of transportation, but you’re the minister of environment, you’re supposed to be overseeing this stuff,” Fox said.
Fox asked Myers if the debris from post-tropical storm Fiona had been burned by the province just to save money, to which Myers joked that the distance labelled by Fox was equivalent to a trip to the moon and back.
“I don’t know what other options you thought was more environmentally friendly,” Myers said.
Fox interrupted Myers to state the debris should have been chipped and used for biomass, which Myers responded would have emitted an equal quantity of emissions.
Caitlin Coombes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Guardian.
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