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Keeping Manitoba's air clean; industries are working in concert with government agencies and pollution experts to find equitable solutions to safe waste disposal.

It's an issue that worries us all. Along with the AIDS crisis, job security and financial freedom, Canadians are most concerned about the potential devastation to our environment. Locally, a study conducted by Viewpoints Research last December showed almost 60 percent of respondents citing the environment as either their first or second concern, followed more distantly by AIDS and the possibility of nuclear war.

1988 brought the issue to the public's attention as never before with what seemed like daily reports about the growing hole in the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, PCB scares and toxins in our air and water. The source of these pollutants is most often industry, but the average Canadian also contributes to environmental pollution by burning oil, gasoline and coal for heat and disposing of household toxins and other recyclable wastes improperly.

Certain types of industries produce acid rain as they spew sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, while others poison our land and water with toxic wastes that are buried and forgotten or routinely poured into our waters as sewage. While industry's shortcomings are well documented, it, along with government and environmentalists are finaly agreeing that we can no long abuse an ecosystem that is stretched to its limits. While no one questions whether or not we should protect the environment, the question most often asked is how? The Manitoba Hazardous Waste Management Corporation works with industry to find solutions to safe waste disposal through such programs as waste minimization, a project that helps companies reduce pollutants through on-site treatment and recycling. The commercial crown corporation, which operates on a fee-for-service basis, deals with the proper waste management of toxic chemicals including waste oil, pesticides, metal wastes, paint and drycleaning solvents. Edwin Yee, manager of system development says larger corporations and Manitoba companies that are subsidiaries of larger parent organizations are often most attuned to hazardous waste management and have established corporate policies that reflect this concern.

"There are cases at both extremes," says Yee. "Some companies have great environmental records while others are awful. We don't act as regulators but we discuss problems with companies and try to find the best solution to their waste disposal. He adds that regulations governing waste management are strong but that the level of enforcement and awareness are lacking. To increase awareness and encourage companies to dispose of wastes properly, the corporation is in the process of finding a central site to develop hazardous waste management programs that will be available to all industries.

While most authority over private enterprise lies with the provincial government, Environment Canada has implemented several measures to ensure a more safe environment. In view of the globally recognized need for linking industry to the environment, country-wide regulations have ensured that there are no pol- lution havens for companies fro coast to coast. Barry Briscoe, Manitoba manager of environmental protection for Environment Canada, says the public is supportive of government regulations that ensure industry doesn't pollute the environment. While the cost for industry to establish pollution control systems is often passed onto consumers through higher prices, Briscoe says the public is willing to pay premiums on environmentally safe products and services. The government's recently introduced environmentally friendly products program will recognize products that are deemed environmentally superior with a special symbol. Briscoe says rigorous testing of products will provide consumers with a chance to choose those that are the least environmentally damaging.

"Our position is that pollution con- trol costs are part of doing business, just as salaries and overhead are. In come cases, establishing pollution control procedures can be of direct benefit to a company due to recycled water and wastes. These less toxic alternatives can often be cheaper and give a company a profile as a good corporate citizen," explains Briscoe.

While its commitment to keeping cement dust under control has meant a big financial investment, inland Cement's desire to be environmenatlly responsible and a good neighbor are a top priority. Last year, the company completed upgrading of its waste dust management system. The project involved the revamping of the back end of the burning process to collect all cement dust before it becomes airborne. With dust pollution possible at the feed end of the system, a rebuilt electrostatic precipitator captures the dust and confines it to a waste tank. A cooler at the rear end of the system treats remaining dust.

"There are other opportunities for us to control dust, particularly at our limestone unloading system and pile," acknowledges plant manager Mike Janis. As housing developments move closer to the plant's Kenaston Boulevard location, Janis says the company must be aware of complaints of dust being carried onto people's cars, laundry and homes. "It's not corrosive dust, but it's a nuisance and we'll have to address that issue," he adds.

Belching sulphur dioxide into the skies from tall smelter stacks,the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company well knows the public concerns about acid rain, the key pollutant created from the smelter's emissions. In operation since 1930, the plants and mines that employ 2,400 at Flin Flon, Snow Lake and Leaf Rapids have caused an ongoing concern to residents, but according to president and CEO Lloyd Nilsen, the company's continuing environmental progress has been reassuring.

"We've spent millions over the past 10 to 15 years and will invest $130 million more to reduce smelter emissions," explains Nilsen. "We're now working on the technology and financing to achieve that objective."

By 1994, the company will be required to reduce smelter emissions of sulphur dioxide by 25 percent. In addition, significant changes are being made to the company's water treatment operations, dust emission control and the metallurgical plant. "This is just the beginning of the solution. It's an ongoing issue that won't be answered for years to come," adds Nilsen.

Also hoping to be part of the solution is the provincial government, whose decisions on new construction projects are dealt with on a site-specific basis. Carl Orcutt, provincial director of environmental control services, says he has no doubts that businesses are now recognizing the seriousness of environmental concerns and are more willing to include precautionary measures into their operating costs. Those that don't conform to new regulations face an increased maximum penalty of up to $100,000 for a corporation's first offence and $200,000 for subsequent infractions. While Orcutt says maximum penalties are rarely imposed, provincial inspectors are finding that businesses don't want to fool with the chance of being found guilty of an environmental offence. Sprawled across 116 acres at the edge of Selkirk, Manitoba Rolling Mills has been churning out steel products since 1906. During the steel making process, emissions from scrap metals are captured by a direct extraction system followed by a back-up hood system, which collects the remaining fumes. These emission controls have been part of the company since 1980,when $4 million was spent to ensure that little or no emissions could escape.

"Our raw material is scrap, so we're actually taking harmful effects out of the environment," says vice president of operations Trevor Jarvis. "Also our byproducts have been developed for use in roadmaking, acting as a strengthening agent."

The large collection of dust created at the plant is buried at a designated clay basin site in alternating layers of dust and dirt. "We have a clay base so there's no leachdng effect, but other companies aren't as fortunate as we and business is the key to environment progress," he says.

Dr. Bob Flett of Flett Research in Winnipeg provides educational workshops on the environment to Winnipeg businesses. He says companies are showing concern in the areas of hazardous material handling and, whether viewed as a nuisance or a real concern, these businesses are looking to the future and the realities of functioning in a new environmentally conscious age.

According to Briscoe and Environment Canada, there is great opportunity for new industries in the areas of environmental service. Citing solvent recovery, transporting toxic products and recycling heat or water as growth areas, Briscoe says the key concept of sustainable growth will set the tone for the future. "There will be a consciousness of developing the economy so as not to harm it for generations to come," he says.

Leading the pursuit to discover safe environmental alternatives for energy, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is researching renewable energy at Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment at Pinawa. Whiteshell environmental authority manager Don Dixon says that while no acid rain producing emissions pollute the skies around Atomic Energy's Manitoba and Ontario labs, the company does face public fears about the safety of nuclear power plants and the concern over disposal of nuclear wastes.

In answer to public fears,the company's nuclear fuel waste management program is now researching and developing requirements for safe disposal of active wastes. The major program, which hopes to protect the environment from potential effects of used nuclear fuel, is nearing the end of the concept assessment phase and

ill be available for public review by he early 1990's.

While environmental offences continue to exist, industry is making significant strides toward a cleaner, safer place to live. As the public and business world alike realize the global consequences of environmental indifference,

there is no doubt that positive action will mark the way of the future.

The National Testing Laboratories Limited, incorporated in 1923, is a multi-disciplined company specializing in geotechnical engineering, material testing, analytical chemistry, construction inspections and building science investigations.

Since 1923, the Company has provided professional services to the private and public sectors throughout Western Canada, northwestern Ontario and the high Arctic. The National Testing Laboratories Limited has undertaken projects as diverse as the analysis of a single water sample to full-scale testing of thousands of homes in Western Canada.

The Company is equipped with modern materials testing equipment, an analytical chemistry laboratory and a concrete testing facility which is certified by the Canadian Standards Association. The laboratories conduct a wide range of tests relating to soils, minerals, water, wastewater, police exhibits, building materials, metals, coals, and agricultural products.

The Industrial Technology Centre (a division of the Manitoba Research Council), provides industry with specialized monitoring programs and analytical chemistry services. These services include:

Air Quality Monitoring-monitoring and analysis of airborne contanimants in the workplace

Hazardous Waste Analysis-identification and quantification of the components of industrial wastes

Environmental Monitoring-monitoring and analysis of air, water and soil for industrial chemicals, agricultural chemicals and environmental contaminants

Quality Control Testing-analysis of products to ensure compliance with quality and performance standards

Transformer Oil Analysis-monitoring and analysis of the characteristics, performance and quality of transformer oil

Contaminants Analysis-identification and quantification of contaminants in raw materials and finished products

Industrial Effluents Analysis-monitoring and analysis of the constituents of industrial waste streams.

Tests are conducted following procedures approved by agencies such as NIOSH, EPA, ASTM, AWWA and CGSB. The ITC is accredited for spe- cific tests by the standards Council of Canada.
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Author:Haines, Lucy
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Words:1823
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