To The Editor,

I wish to respond to Kerry Franklin’s letter that appeared in the Review last week, in which she labels people who care about the environment as “working for the government” and “the lot of you”. This shows a lack of respect for those who care about the future of this area and the people who live here. I have backed off from responding to this type of mail for some time, but today I feel the need to speak up.
Kerry, do you remember the days of the CIP when we could smell Hawkesbury from miles away? That company did provide some economic activity at the time, but did not create lasting wealth. Almost 30 years since its closure, Hawkesbury is still trying to clean up the stinking contaminated soil at the cost of millions of dollars to restore its shoreline and Hawkesbury remains one of the poorest towns in Ontario.
The proposed cement plant in L’Orignal is a similar large polluting industry with investors from Quebec who stand to gain from exporting most of the cement to the USA. The plant will burn petroleum coke which releases much higher concentrations of  sulphur dioxide than the burning of coal, as well as hydrogen chloride, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and CO2, all of which cannot be filtered out. The resulting acid rain will have devastating effects on the surrounding farms and residences, including schools and nursing homes as well as the Ottawa River. Added to the mix are the hundreds of heavy diesel trucks involved daily in moving these materials  to and from the proposed plant. I will not include the long list of adverse effects such a plant would have on the area because I have already written several letters on this subject. I just wish to remind people of the long term damage such an industry would have on this area and all for a few dollars. The answer to building our economy is to invest in local small and medium businesses rather than foreign polluting giants who bully their way into our locality where they see only dollar signs.
To sum up my concern here, I want to remind the reader that the top environmental problems we face are not only the resulting climate change and ecosystem collapse, but as revealed by Kerry Franklin’s letter, the greater problems are selfishness, greed and apathy.  (Quick money is not the answer here) To deal with these we need a spiritual and cultural transformation that looks beyond our pocketbooks to the reality of the big picture. The responsibility rests with each citizen of Champlain. Apathy has become our greatest enemy and, unless people speak out and get involved, could be our downfall down the road, when it will be too late to turn back the clock.

Léola Meagher,