Councillor 'disturbed' by lack of communication
Thursday, Nov 13, 2014 06:00 am
The MD of Bighorn wants better communication with the province regarding impacts of industrial operations in the community, but it is uncertain on exactly how the current situation will improve.
Bighorn council unanimously approved a motion on Nov. 5 at the regular meeting to direct administration to request a sit-down meeting with representatives from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) to “improve the current situation with respect to Lafarge’s impact on the adjacent communities.”
Councillor Paul Ryan brought forward the motion and letter with his views that read, “We need improved communications on industrial releases and reportable incidents.”
Ryan expressed frustrations during the meeting when his request for an incident report over a month ago hadn’t returned, as he was “later refused because it is apparently still an active investigation.
“The fact I’m a councillor and can’t get access to the reports is very disturbing,” Ryan said. “We need to find out from ESRD what is being done and how to communicate.”
Bighorn Chief Administrative Officer Martin Buckley said it’s expected the MD’s request will be sent by the end of this week.
ESRD was unable to comment in time for this publication of this article.
In order to receive an incident report from ESRD, interested members of the public and media fill out a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) request form with an initial fee of $25 for general information. The timetable on when the information is delivered varies.
The motion was brought forth because incidents on the property of Lafarge’s Exshaw plant in the past few months such as a hydrated lime release in July and a hydraulic oil release in October, while contracted company Mammoet was erecting a crane. Both of which affected the adjacent hamlet.
Ryan thinks there has been a major lack of communication on the province’s side and wants to know, as leaders in the community, how does Bighorn receive incident reports in a timely fashion, the status of outstanding issues already raised by Bighorn to the province, and how to engage ESRD and AHS to improve the current situation with respect to effects.
“We can’t get anything back from the province, yet we have people in Hazmat suits running around (Exshaw),” he said. “There has to be a better way of communication.”
Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper said in an interview after the meeting with the Outlook that council will ask ESRD and AHS to communicate directly regarding past and future issues that may extend, or actually do extend beyond the industrial perimeter. He hopes the sit down meeting happens very soon.
“In short, council expects the regulators to protect and direct. More importantly the residents of Lac des Arcs and Exshaw request that the regulators communicate early, clearly and as often as necessary as these industrial incidents – like the release of hydraulic fluid and calcium hydrate – occur,” Cooper said.
“In the next 12 months I estimate there will be more activity at Lafarge than there would be in a decade of normal operations. The present scale of activity is driving the elevated need for improved comment. Industrial incidents occur during regular times; more frequently during busy construction phases.”