PROTECTING Our Escarpment PitSense is a community of people organized to respond to proposals for further increases in the number and size of aggregate operations in Caledon. We are opposed to the continuing 'Domino Effect' growth of open pit mines and quarries in the agricultural and rural residential areas of the Niagara Escarpment and UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Besides the obvious issue of traffic safety there is a serious health danger in the fumes that heavy diesel trucks emit. With its dirty color and choking odor, one can gather using common sense alone that diesel fumes are unhealthy to breathe into the body, and unhealthy to spew out into the environment. But that is all an understatement. Diesel exhaust is responsible for 21,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to "Diesel and Health in America: The Lingering Threat," a report by the Clean Air Task Force (CATF).
Diesel fumes are filled with toxic, cancer-causing compounds that are small enough to be inhaled deep into your lungs.
That's because diesel fumes are made up of soot, or particulate matter (PM), which comprises hundreds of different compounds, many of which are carcinogenic and toxic. The American Lung Association reported that "diesel engines account for about 26 percent of the total hazardous particulate pollution (PM10) from fuel combustion sources in our air, and 66 percent of the particulate pollution from on-road sources."
In fact, diesel exhaust contains more than 40 substances that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says can cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
According to the CATF report, diesel exhaust poses a national cancer risk 350 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency´s acceptable risk level. But that's not all. They also found that, each year, diesel fumes cause:
27,000 nonfatal heart attacks 410,000 asthma attacks 12,000 cases of chronic bronchitis 15,000 hospital admissions 2.4 million lost work days 14 million restricted activity days
Particularly at risk are children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems or who smoke. People who live or work near diesel exhaust, or who exercise regularly in diesel-polluted areas, are also at an increased risk, according to the American Lung Association.
Aside from the risk of respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia and heart disease, the CATF report noted that diesel fumes have been found to:
Degrade the immune system; Interfere with hormones, including reducing sperm production; Cause nervous system damage in railroad workers who are exposed; Induce allergic reactions.
Do we really need to ADD to the dangers that already exist? PitSense believes that we must re-evaluate society's relationships between our aggregate industries, our aggregate users, our environment, and ordinary citizens who currently suffer the harmful consequences without adequate compensation. We must create a better balance between all stakeholders.
Safety issues are a major concern, both for local area residents and any drivers sharing the road along the haul routes. Any increase in heavy truck traffic brings increased risks. Rail and ship transport of aggregates are potentially more economical than truck transport, and more environmentally sound, but we believe would also be far safer. It is time to rethink our policies with regard to alternatives to heavy truck transport of aggregates on local and regional roads.
December 2012 – Ministry of Transportation Road User Safety Division issued the results of an “Aggregate Vehicle Survey Analysis"
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario conducted a ‘vehicle survey’ to determine the scope of weight compliance issues within the aggregate industry. Enforcement Officers surveyed 434 aggregate trucks between August and October 2012. The data collected revealed a systemic problem and pattern of non-compliance for both gross and axle weight. Overloading is a problem across the industry. The majority of trucks surveyed exceeded maximum allowable axle weight and more than 40 percent exceeded maximum allowable gross vehicle weights.
PitSense vehemently OPPOSES any future aggregate licenses being issued until the industry and the Ministries responsible come to grips with this VERY SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE. This situation cannot be tolerated any longer. A moratorium on licensing is needed and consequences upon those who are flaunting the laws must be swift and severe.
The new 2013 application from Blueland Farms is calling for up to 80 trucksper hour to travel on Airport Rd. through Caledon East on their way to GTA markets. This raises serious health and safety concerns. There are steep hills north and south of the village. There are many pedestrians and cyclists in the village, with students crossing Airport Rd. This video shows the same sort of concerns expressed by CORE folks further north on Airport Rd. where another new pit is proposed. These risks are not an acceptable price for local residents to pay.