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Blacking out the truth

cartoon_oct192016When word came that closed meeting investigators had found that two meetings held by the Region of Durham, both pertaining to the maligned Durham York Energy Centre, had been improperly closed to the public, many were hoping that this meant information the region had previously kept secret would make its way out of the shadows.

However, the document instead leaves us with more questions than answers.

In a report presented to regional council in September, Amberely Gavel, the firm contracted to conduct the investigation, found that “ there were major portions of the discussions that could have, with good planning and careful management of the flow of the meeting, been made public and transparent.”

In this newpaper’s opinion, there are more things that could have been made transparent.

For example, two out of four principles of the acceptance testing for the incinerator are blacked out in a memorandum included in the release. The acceptance testing, remember, was being done to ensure that this facility was able to perform not only to contractual standards, but also to help ensure that whatever was coming out of those stacks would not be of any harm to residents. So why can’t residents know the principles that were being tested?

Another question raised stems from a small line that did not meet the wrath of the region’s black markers, stating that when staff met with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to enquire what would happen in the event of a second round of acceptance testing – remember, the incinerator initially failed its acceptance test before the January meeting adapted the contract so that it could pass.

What was the ministry’s response? To tell the region that if there were a second round of acceptance testing, that it “would not be in a position to participate in a repeat test process and the evaluation of these test results.”

Why is the ministry tasked with keeping the waters, ground and air of this province clean not wanting to get involved to ensure that a facility that burns garbage and pumps the byproduct – which has at times included dangerous dioxins and furans that far exceeded provincial limits – into the air?

These are just two of the questions that have come from this release of documents. In the coming weeks, one can only hope that the region opens up about what is under those black lines, and not keep information out of the light.

After all, this is a $300-million facility that has twice now been found to be putting out dioxins and furans well above the limit. The region’s residents deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent and, more importantly, if what they are breathing is safe.