Worth a peek, I think.
The big topic in North Bay last month was the “forever chemical” PFAS contamination that already exists and more threats coming. But what is the risk, exactly? And what replaces it?
I interviewed resident Michael Taylor, a council candidate last fall and co-chair of the Concerned Citizens Committee of North Bay and Area (created in 2012 when mental health beds were moved to Sudbury without consultation). Taylor volunteered to help facilitate a town hall meeting recently for another group against Industrial Plastics Canada opening a moulding facility in the city. More than 40 people participated and came up with ideas to form an education and action plan to address concerns about transparency, regulations and oversight.
UPDATED: Read Taylor’s statement after touring the IPC facility Aug. 1 below the video
North Bay is one of many North American communities facing “forever chemical” contamination caused by toxic fire-fighting foam, used during training exercises at airport and military base, that drained into local waterways and ground water. A report focusing on mitigation measures was due this spring. In the United States, a company that produced the foam agreed to pay more than $10 billion toward clean up efforts in multiple states to settle a class action lawsuit.
Meanwhile, some North Bay residents are joining forces to fight against a plastic molding company setting up shop in the city this year. Industrial Plastics Canada says it will use PFTE powder (polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a Teflon-like product that falls into a larger group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)) to create a sheet product other companies can use to make plastic components.
Michael Taylor after tour of Industrial Plastics Canada (IPC):
I had the opportunity and pleasure to tour the Industrial Plastics Facility with two associates last Tuesday afternoon. I arrived early and had an opportunity to wander around the property. The property is large, with a gravel parking lot, and a substantial amount of land cleared to allow traffic to easily enter and exit the property.
We were greeted at the door by an employee who showed into the building, where we met the facility manager, Craig Rice. Craig is a pleasant business professional with a ready smile, and a firm handshake. He is a resident of North Bay and grew up in our city. He says he is committed to safety and will do all that is within his authority, and he has substantial knowledge and experience, to ensure safe operation within the facility.
In addition to Craig, we met with his communications liaison, who also grew up in North Bay. Denyce Lafrance-Horning’s role was and is to listen to what the people of North Bay are saying. She is the bridge between the city, the facility and the business. She has agreed to provide timely responses to any questions, including statistical analysis and data. Both Denyce, and Craig voiced their commitment to transparency and a willingness to work with the people of North Bay. Our tour of the facility took about half an hour.
The facility itself is fairly big, with the larger portion designated as a distribution center. Craig pointed out distribution was the greater part of the business. The part of the facility where the compound is cold-compressed, and then, with below threshold heat, the material compound goes from compressed powder to solid material. Both the powder and the solid material are inert. That is, in their resting state, well stored, and managed, they are safe to people and the environment. The solid material is formed into cylinders, small, to large, short to long, and packaged for shipping. A visual example would be a pool noodle, but instead of foam, solid white plastic.
Another form the product takes is in sheets of variegated thickness. We talked about the short term and long-term implications for plastics, and the facility and the what ifs if government standards changed, or if an environmental event were to occur. I believe I can say that my associates and I were satisfied with both Craig’s and Denyce’s authenticity, commitment to transparency, and willingness to follow all environmental standards and regulations, and provide ongoing analysis of their environmental footprint. In consideration of their agreement to transparency and commitment to public relations, Craig, Denyse and Adrea Arlati have accepted our invitation to join our next town hall meeting hosted by the Concerned Citizens Committee of North Bay and Area tentatively on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. Please watch for confirmation of time and location.
Co-Chair Concerned Citizens Committee of North Bay and Area
Writer, photographer and proud father. My mom’s family is from the Soo with its Algoma Highlands, dad hailed from Cobden in the Ottawa Valley and I spent my teen years in Capreol. Summers were at the beach on the Vermillion River and winters at ‘The Rink.’ Born in East York but Toronto never was my thing. Ever since a kid looking out the window on long trips, I imagined living on the highway in a little house with a big yard and trees growing all around me.