Sunday, January 17, 2010

Industry & Environment....Thursday, August 7. 2008

I live in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. I don't want to offend anyone in Saint John that happens to read this, but many parts of Saint John stink. It is an old industrial city and is controlled greatly by one giant company that has had its way too long as far as environmental issues are concerned. I do want to point out that Saint John has natural beauty, being surrounded by the Bay of Fundy and two major rivers and various lakes. Also, I am not anti business and believe that business is a key part of a vibrant community. What I am against is business turning a blind eye as far as environmental toxins and pollution are concerned. It seems that around here the almighty dollar comes before the environment. This could be an example of the town or city you live in. People in many parts of the world can relate to the following examples of putting money ahead of the environment.

I will begin this article with Mispec Park. I remember going to this beach as a little boy (that was 40 years ago). It used to be packed with people of all ages enjoying a nice summer day. When the tide was out it was one of the nicest beach areas I have ever seen. People could be seen building sand castles, throwing a football or a frisbee, or walking along the dunes. There were even a few brave enough to swim in the frigid Bay of Fundy waters. There is even a small hiking area and picnic area there. It was the place to be back then. Irving Oil and the Spanish-based Repsol are now building a $750 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Mispec Point and the beach is practically empty. The liquefied natural gas facility is expected to begin operation in late 2008. It seems that Mispec Park as a beach and family park is currently dying a slow death. In addition to this, Emera Inc. is completing 145-kilometre natural gas pipeline to ship the LNG from Mispec through Saint John to the Maine border. This pipeline is being constructed through the city, including Rockwood Park, despite objection from many people and businness throughout the city.

In Saint John it is common practice to dump raw sewage into the harbour. The harbour feeds into the Bay of Fundy, which has a rich ecosystem. Saint John has the distinction of being the only municipality in Canada that discharges raw sewage into streams that run through the heart of its city, and finally into the harbour. Health risks associated with waters receiving raw sewage include amoebic dysentery, cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A, and a variety of other gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin disorders. There are parts of the city close to the streams and the harbour that a person can actually smell raw sewage. In fact, at times you can get a strong whiff of raw sewage while walking along a certain part of Saint John's main walking trail. The Bay of Fundy has been described by some as the world's largest toilet because of the density and high tides of the bay and the garbage and raw sewage being dumped into it. It is difficult for the naked eye to see the size of the problem. This is totally unacceptable in the twenty-first century to allow this to happen. It will cost millions of dollars to solve this problem, while we, as citizens of this city sit and wait for the problem to get fixed, while the three levels of government decide who and how this will be paid.

The pollution levels in Saint John have been something that has plagued this city for a number of years. It is worse depending on the wind direction and air mass. Sometimes foggy days make the situation worse. I have heard many people that live outside Saint John as saying the city is "dirty and it stinks". Why is that? A lot has to do with the pollution. I have heard many people that have asthma say that it gets worse living in the city. Our main shopping district and a couple of sub-divisions are located within two miles of Canada's largest oil refinery! I made I trip to that area a few weeks ago on a foggy night and the smell was awful. In fact it aggravated my slight asthma condition that night. Again, politicians and media tell us that the issue is not bad at all. But anyone in Saint John knows that one big company primarily controls the government and media.

This is my home city. There are lots of beautiful areas and bright spots in Saint John. I am not all negative, however some issues need to be addressed. The media and politicians try to avoid talking about the dirty issues. They would rather ignore it or sugar coat it. I would assume that this could be somewhere you live as well. It seems that these days that the environment takes a back seat to big business and industry, especially where big business and industry control politicians. Politicians look after big business first and the environment and the average citizen second.

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