To the Editors,
I read it twice to be sure I was not mistaken. I was not. Our respected MPP, Toby Barrett, in his weekly column pointed to the end of coal fired power generation at Nanticoke and the decimation of tobacco farming in Norfolk as examples of poor government decision-making.
Local politicians were rabidly pro tobacco when that industry came under threat, willfully ignoring suffering and death to millions of tobacco users, including non-users who breathed the same air. The annual cost to the economy still ranges over $15 billion even as the number of smokers has declined. It was wrong-headed at the time, but to voice support, or even nostalgia, is appalling and acutely disappointing.
When the Nanticoke plant opened in 1972, the community expressed concern about emissions from the giant smoke stacks. Ontario Hydro said not to worry. The reason the stacks were so high (650 ft) was for prevailing winds to carry emissions far, far away before they came back to earth. No one would notice. New York state noticed, and angrily complained. Pollution does not respect international borders.
At its peak the plant burned 30,000 tons of coal daily, releasing over 63,000 tons of climate-killing carbon dioxide (CO2) and tons of more deadly compounds including arsenic and mercury.