Environmentalists Cry Foul - by Larry Powell
Louisiana Pacific Canada Limited operates an "Oriented Strand Board" plant in the Swan Valley of western Manitoba. It's been at odds with critics ever since the provincial government allowed it to shut down its pollution control equipment last January.
Following an uproar from community members and environmentalists, the government instructed an advisory committee, the Clean Environment Commission (CEC), to review that decision. It conducted public meetings earlier this summer in Swan River. Participants argued for and against LP's application to make the shutdown permanent.
Then, two groups critical of LP's proposal, joined forces. "Concerned Citizens of the Valley" and "The Boreal Forest Network" tried to arrange for scientific experts to tour the plant.
They argued this was the only way for them to fully take part in the process, since the format of the public meetings did not permit them to cross-examine LP's witnesses.
The groups described one of the experts they hoped would tour the plant as a specialist in "human health risk assessment," another as an "expert in the environmental regulation of forestry operations" in Canada.
Despite their insistence that the individuals have PhDs with extensive experience, LP refused.
The company said it had already co-operated fully with the committee and saw no need to allow further tours or inspections.
But Dan Soprovich of "Concerned Citizens" doesn't see it that way. He suggests LP has refused the request simply because it has something to hide.
LP has threatened to close the plant if it is forced to start up the pollution controls once again.
Meanwhile, the people of the Swan Valley are anxiously awaiting the recommendations of the CEC.
Photo by Larry=====
Please also read "Battle in the Boreal - Rekindling the Air Quality Debate."