HAZCO attempt to launch committee for improving
communications regarding proposed waste-sulphur storage and -handling
On January 31, 2007, at the Lamont Recreation Centre, HAZCO hosted a
discussion, apparently in the hope of being able to launch a committee for
improving the communications process involving participants in the
Environmental Impact Assessment Process for its proposed waste-sulphur
storage and -handling facility in Lamont County.
The discussion was led by a professional facilitator, Rob McManus,
who headed a team of consultants hired by HAZCO.
In the order of about 35 to 40 people attended, including the organizers
and a full set of
a small number of HAZCO supporters that had made a regular showing at open
houses organized in the past by HAZCO or by its official opposition (the
Friends of Lamont County for Responsible Industrial and Community
The ground rules for the discussion were laid out on about the third
slide of the PowerPoint presentation shown by the consultants. Amongst
those ground rules, participants were admonished to be respectful of
opinions expressed during the evening's discussion.
Right from the start, that ground rule was seriously violated through vicious ad-hominem attacks by two
(one could call them fanatical) supporters
of HAZCO. The facilitator of the discussion did nothing to admonish
the violators and thereby lost credibility and at least some of the trust of
the majority of the participants in the discussion.
There is not much that can be said about the intentions of the
discussion, other than that as the facilitator tried to establish at the end
of the evening whether there was a consensus amongst the participants as to
the need for the desired committee he stated that there was about a 50:50
split amongst the participants.
However, some of the participants pointed out the following concerns in
regard to that:
- It is not clear at all what role the committee would play in the
context of the democratic and legislative Environmental Review Process
that is currently under way;
- It appears that if a committee were to be set up now, it could well
be that it or its members may become accused, and be found legally
guilty, of interfering with or violating legislative and administrative processes in place
and in progress, and
- A democratic process for selecting a committee (e. g.: in connection
with the upcoming municipal elections) would have to be put into place
to ensure the legal standing of such a committee.
The quick poll conducted by the discussion's facilitator has no practical
meaning with respect to the opinions of the residents of the County of
Lamont. The people present were selected by HAZCO and through word of
mouth without apparently anyone (other than the organizers) present at the
discussion being fully and clearly aware prior to the beginning of the
discussion of what the purpose of the evening of discussion was.
Therefore the participants in the discussion have neither legal standing nor
are they empowered to reach any sort of conclusions as legal (or
representational and elected) representatives of the residents of the County
It appeared that during the poll conducted by him Rob McManus attempted to
create the impression that objectors to HAZCO's waste-sulphur plant site fall into two classes, those
who live within a 1.5 km radius and those who live at a greater distance
from the proposed waste-sulphur storage and -handling facility. Other
participants in the discussion made it clear that such a division is
arbitrary and somewhat meaningless. For example, as
sulphur prills are being
blown out of open freight cars in transit and soon form a considerably dense
and uniform deposit on the ground along railroad tracks carrying sulphur
unit-trains, anyone living within a relatively short distance from
railroad tracks leading away from the proposed waste-sulphur storage and
-handling facility would be subjected to the impact of products of
degradation by weathering (i. e.: SO2, H2S and various
sulphates) of ostensibly benign sulphur lost in transit.
Posted 2007 02 08