A Cleanup Begins - but Concerns Remain Over the Massive Straw-Bale Piles at Elie, Manitoba

by Larry Powell - (Please also note comments at bottom.)

A resident of Elie, Manitoba, Linda Aquin, says she worries that the massive backlog of straw-bales stored near the town will catch fire, resulting in the release of toxic chemicals. Aquin and her husband operate a bed-&-breakfast in the small town on the Trans Canada Highway, west of Winnipeg. She says Dow Bio Products which owns the now defunct strawboard plant, has hired exterminators to control the rodents living in the straw.

She believes they used a poison
possibly containing arsenic for this purpose. If a fire breaks out, she adds, she doesn't know what could happen. But, it could be like a chemical fire and if the wind is in the wrong direction, results could be serious. She says a fire at the Elie school some time ago produced toxic smoke when some plastic chairs burned. "We couldn't breath and had to get out of there," she remarked. She fears a similar incident, only on a larger scale, could still happen with the bales.

Aquin says there have already been fires that smoldered for a long time in the bales and even ones inside the plant, when it was still operating.
There have been rumours that the bales will be removed, she adds. These include a deal with a Hutterite band (to bury them) and with the Trans Alaskan pipeline, who would use the straw to cover some of its equipment. But this has not happened, so far. *

Aquin adds, the failure of the plant, which has been dismantled and the machinery shipped to new owners in Brazil, means area farmers, who once had a market for their straw at the plant, are burning it, once again.
She believes the owners set money aside to clean up the site. Yet the bales "just sit and sit and sit." The question becomes, is it now even safe, given the chemicals used to control the rodents, to attempt to destroy the bales even in a controlled burn, because of the possible toxins they would produce?
* Dow has now begun a cleanup program on the west side of the straw bale piles, nearest the town.
Please also read
"A Testament to Failure." Click here.
=====COMMENTS; That rat breeding grounds on the #1 is owned by Dow Ind. and is backed by our government. A gov'nt article stated it was now tarped and just ignore the tumbled piles. Very responsible, don't u think? Anon.
=====Apparently Dow Industries was using the straw piles (and piles and piles and...) to manufacture building supplies. They have tarped some, according to a government article, but we're told to ignore all the tumbled over piles-probably the rat infested piles. Every year I drive down the #1, I see the same eyesore too, and you know it's not the farmers. Anon.


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