Back in 1988, before some of you were born, I read an ad inviting the community to attend a meeting at the Civic Complex. Was I interested in cleaning up the St. Lawrence River? Did I have concerns about the state of the River? Did I have ideas about the future of the River?
I thought the topic was interesting and so I went to the meeting. Now twenty-five years later, these questions are still relevant.
Much has been done to clean up the River, both on the Canadian side and the American side. On the American side, the GM site has almost been all cleaned up, especially with the company gone now. Reynolds did a major job of cleaning up sediments in the River and changing its production method so that yellow smoke no longer spews from its chimneys. Alcoa has buried all of its PCBs in well-engineered landfill sites on its own property. Millions were spent by these companies.
On the Canadian side, because of different legislation, the companies did a variety of things, especially after they closed down. The decommissioning of Domtar, ICI and Courtaulds made the companies clean up their land-based contamination. On the River, Nature is helping us by depositing clean sediment over the contaminated sediment.
The City of Cornwall has an excellent Pollution Control Plan that it is implementing as the funds become available. Finally, the snow dump is being moved. That was one of the concerns in the early 90's! Frankly, it was only the building of the new bridge and the concerns about that eyesore that moved it!!
However, there are still many rural problems that pour polluted waters into the River. The Environmental Farm Plan and Best Management Practices have helped those rural landowners that want to help the environment. Many don't seem to have the imagination to figure how to work their land and help the environment at the same time.
But do we have other concerns still? Are there things that the Public Advisory Committee of the St. Lawrence Remedial Action Plan and the St. Lawrence River Restoration Council missed over the years? Do you have ideas about what should be done to improve our River? You are going to be invited to a community forum to give your views about the River, on November 2 -- circle the morning, please. Watch in this column and ads in various media for more information. I hope to see you there -- Find my hat in the crowd and say hello.
I heard just today that some young people are trying to recycle cigarette butts. There was not much detail but I thought, great, great, great! Litter is ugly but cigarette butts are the ugliest and they sit there for years. They never decompose though they ultimately break down into such tiny bits of plastic that it seems they are gone. No they are still polluting and if worms digest them, they receive no nutrition and may even die. I will keep watching for more info on this recycling idea.