Mr. Chairman, and ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for the invitation to address you. I consider it an honour and a privilege.
I will start with a few words about my background. I will then present my reasons for seeking an audience with this committee, namely, to prevent polluters from getting to damage our environment and exposing citizens to cancer by misleading authorities through false claims. The main thrust of my presentation will be to document the disreputable record of falsity of the polluters I am referring to. I will then mention my vision of how waste can be managed without recourse to polluting technologies.
First, to help you assess the validity of what I will say, I will state my qualifications. I am a medical doctor and a specialist in medical genetics on both the clinical and research sides. I am a fellow of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists. I am an emeritus professor of molecular biology and genetics and an emeritus director of the School of Human Biology at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. During my career, I held a World Health Organization fellowship in human genetics and a U.S.A. Fulbright fellowship in cellular genetics.
As a doctor, I am passionate about human health, and as a medical geneticist I am obsessive about preventing those terrible diseases such as cancer that arise from preventable genetic damage from pollutants. I have been active in campaigns against cancer-causing agents such as tobacco smoke and radioactive contamination. I am also a passionate Canadian citizen.
It is these two passions for human health and for Canada that aroused me to action when I learned that blatantly false and misleading information about a potential environmental cause of cancer had been given to this committee of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada. I viewed this as an act of contempt toward Canada's most prestigious institution.
I am referring to the testimony given to this committee on June 5, 2014, by senior executives of an incinerator company, Entech-REM. After seeing a transcript of that evidence, I wrote to you, Mr. Chairman, and in citing references to the scientific literature, I outlined two specific examples from amongst the many examples of misinformation given to your committee. I am grateful that this has led to your kind invitation to appear here today.
I believe members of the committee have seen my original letter, so here I will only briefly summarize the two items I mentioned as examples.
The executive vice-president of the company, when asked whether the incinerator they wished to build in Port Hope, Ontario, would emit toxic substances, indicated that only carbon dioxide and water vapours would be emitted, but the company's own environmental screening report admitted to 18 cancer-producing poisons being released. When asked about the local resistance to the project, the executive VP replied that “local resistance is really such a small percentage”. But in rejecting Entech-REM's application for zoning and official plan amendments, Port Hope council cited the “overwhelming community opposition to this application”. In the recent Ontario provincial elections, local riding candidates from all parties—Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green Party—declared themselves opposed to this incinerator.
Incineration, which this company is trying to foist on an unwilling municipal council and citizenry of Port Hope, constitutes a major threat to the health and well-being of humans and all life forms. In my letter, I briefly referred to the scope of the deadly emissions from the incinerator. I will be happy to provide more information in the question period, but here I wish to use my remaining time to explain in greater detail the very disturbing nature and extent of the misinformation that the company Entech-REM has been spreading far and wide, including in testimony to this committee. It is my hope that in doing so I may contribute to preventing heedless polluters such as Entech-REM from spreading cancer around our country.
Entech-REM has systematically misinformed the public and decision-making agencies for the five years of the company's existence. In a moment, I will mention a few specific examples, and in a written brief that I have also submitted today, I list the company's top 20 items of misinformation. The flood of misinformation is substantial and, when believed, is dangerous to public health.
We, the members of the grassroots incorporated non-profit organization Port Hope Residents 4 Managing Waste Responsibly are left wondering: what will it take to bring the miscreants to account? Entech-REM has spread its misinformation by way of advertisements and statements in newspapers, on the radio, on websites, in fliers and circulars, and in presentations to municipalities, to the Government of Ontario, and now to a parliamentary committee.
The most important items of their misinformation include, first, false advertising of the nature of their technology and, second, false statements about their past credentials. They have repeatedly promoted their technology as being clean and green, but the scientific literature indicates that some 250 poisonous emissions are given out by incinerators, and as I indicated in my letter to you, sir, and as mentioned above, even their own environmental screening report admitted to 18 cancer-producing toxins, as well as unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas.
They have used spin to give the impression that their process entails recycling, but it does no such thing. They also use spin to suggest that it produces no landfill, but their own data reveal that it will produce 16 tonnes per day of bottom ash that would end up as extremely toxic landfill. They promote their system as unique, proven, and, at the same time, cutting edge, but gasification is in fact an obsolete and widely failed technology.
They initially successfully convinced the decision-makers in Port Hope that they have a splendid past record in building and managing so-called clean and green waste-to-energy plants until we did due diligence and showed that the claims of past experience and success were false. Entech-REM has never bought or managed an incinerator or waste-to-energy plant. They proposed to process 550 tonnes of household and industrial waste per day in Port Hope. The only Entech plant for which documented information exists, and the one that Port Hope officials site-visited, is a small project in Poland that processes only 3.5 tonnes a day. That's 3.5 tonnes compared to 550, and that's medical waste, which is much less challenging to process than household and industrial waste.
Worst of all, concerning credentials, they claimed in their advertisements to have plants in places where they do not. These include Australia and Hong Kong. Our due diligence discovered that these plants do not exist. At our instigation, these items of misinformation were directly challenged and the non-existence of the two plants was admitted, respectively by the company's president and their VP of engineering.
The now former executive VP, the person whose misinformation to this committee I drew your attention to, stated publicly in the Port Hope council chamber that the proposed project for Port Hope had been “endorsed by the Province of Ontario”. We knew this to be untrue. We sought official comment from the provincial Ministry of the Environment and we received official confirmation that this claim was false.
In my profession, if someone were discovered to have falsified their credentials while negotiating for a position, it would not only bring the negotiations to a screeching halt, but the person would also be instantly struck off the medical register. In this case, the company's falsifications have been repeatedly documented, but the company remains in good standing. If government agencies continue to allow the company to conceal its tarnished record and to brush aside our outing of the falsifications, the community at large will be exposed to poisoning of the air, water, and land, of the vegetation and crops, and so of the livestock, fish, poultry, and dairy products. What we breathe, drink, and eat determines life.
We, the concerned citizens, are puzzled that a polluting industry such as incineration is even given any serious consideration at all. We conclude that it is because the industry spin is so effective that it pre-empts the enlightened trend towards social acceptance of the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
I know that members of this committee need no convincing of the wisdom of the three Rs, but I cannot leave it unsaid that we believe from our research that in our area of Port Hope and elsewhere a thrust toward further developing our recycling program would not only protect our community's health, it would also serve our economy. An incinerator in our area would cause job loss in our most important industries: agriculture and tourism. Recycling has been shown to conserve much more energy than waste-to-energy programs can produce, and recycling would provide a major source of local jobs and community prosperity.
In conclusion, we wonder how long this company can continue to get away with systematic deception. The company, evidently, believes it can fool most of the people most of the time. How much further can this go? I am deeply disturbed that the company has gone so far as to make false statements to a parliamentary committee. I respectfully appeal to you to make clear to the Canadian public that you, the committee, find false testimony unacceptable.
Thank you very much.