EFONES is one of many Alberta environmental non-profit organizations born of citizens' response to provincial forestry policies associated with the Alberta Pacific (ALPAC) pulp mill proposal of 1988/89. Out of this came the first federal-provincial public hearings on a forestry project (Oct-Dec 1989) and the ALPAC Board's decision report of March 1990. It was the pressure of Albertans' response and no other that forced Premier Don Getty's government to pass the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB)Act (assented to December 18, 1990). The purpose of the act was to provide for an impartial process - including public hearings - to determine whether projects are...
"... in the public interest, having regard to the social and economic effects of the projects and the effect of the projects on the environment."In July 1991, Chem-Security (Alberta) Limited (CSAL) filed for approval to add an incinerator (40,000 tonnes annual capacity) to the exisiting 13,500-tonne capacity Alberta Special Waste Treatment Centre (ASWTC). Cabinet deemed the project reviewable under the NRCB Act, thus occasioning that Board's inaugural hearing in Swan Hills, AB.
[s.2 NRCB Act].
On November 23, 1991, EFONES members were in the Swan Hills community hall with the other interveners - the Swan Hills Environmental Review Coalition (SHERC). The mayor of Swan Hills proclaimed himself a supporter of the application. Aboriginal community representatives from Lesser Slave Lake paced restlesly because ther attempts to secure intervener status had thus far failed. EFONES had no lawyer, no consultants., no money. The Board was late; Chairman G. DeSorcey entered the meeting room with three Board members around 11:40 am.
The Board and the participants heard testimony that the ASWTC would be incinerating all toxic wastes generated in Alberta, including those generated by the oil/gas sector. It was to be Canada's largest incineration facility, incorporating state-of-the-art technology with government-industry cooperation. They called it a joint venture agreement (JVA). Mr. Getty and his cabinet dreamt of making lots of money for the public coffers - at least that's what they told the public. What happened?
No appeal hearing was ever held. CSAL filed a stay application and litigation continued until the aboriginal interveners ran out of money in 1998.
The Swan Hills story has not ended.