Shell refinery opponents celebratePosted: July 9, 2008
Jack Poirier, July 9, 2008, The Observer -- Gayle Farr no immediate plans to remove the "No Shell" sign planted in her St. Clair Parkway yard.
While local business and government leaders touted the economic windfall promised by a proposed Shell Canada refinery , some neighbours and First Nation residents questioned its environmental costs.
So they were relived by news the project has been mothballed.
"This is one little step to protect what we have in the (St. Clair) river," Farr said.
Her sign has stood in opposition to the proposed refinery for two years.
"It was presented as this miracle cure to cure all the economic woes (in Sarnia-Lambton).
"We have to diversify. We have to find another way to produce jobs. We can't afford to do it with chemical plants and refineries," she said.
Farr was co-organizer of a project information meeting scheduled for Thursday in Courtright.
"Maybe we'll just get a big cake and celebrate," she said.
Aamjiwnaang's Ron Plain, a project manager with Environmental Defence, said the refinery wasn't a good fit for the area.
"The reality is we would have had to deal with more emissions. I consider this a victory for Sarnia-Lambton," he said. "The environmental and health impacts that we already suffer would have been compounded with the addition of a new plant."
Walpole Island First Nation Chief Joseph Gilbert said his community objected to the site location because of existing impacts from neighbouring industry.
The Shell project would have increased emissions to the air and water from the 67 industrial plants already located upriver from Walpole, he said.
“We’ve never been against progress, but we expressed concern (about) what the impact would be on future generations.”
Shell had received unanimous support from municipal, provincial and federal government officials, with some stating they would do anything to move the project forward. Local business, labour and economic development officials cited the many positive economic impacts another refinery would bring.
"What good is that if your environment is destroyed?" Gilbert asked