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Neighbours object Shell refinery


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Neighbours object Shell refinery

Posted By By JACK POIRIER The Sarnia Observer (Canada)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Not in my backyard.

That’s the message a group of neighbours opposed to the proposed Shell refinery in St. Clair Township want to drive home to company and municipal officials through a public meeting in Courtright.

“Industry has a place and it’s not here,” said Elsie Metcalfe, who operates a 100-acre farm with her husband Reg near the proposed refinery site.

“We can spit over to their property.”

If constructed, the new facility would be one of the largest oil refineries in North America. If neighbours don’t object now, it will be too late, Metcalfe said.

“This is a farming community and we’re talking about taking the largest refinery and plopping it right in the middle.”

Unsatisfied with information provided by Shell and consulting firm Jacques Whitford, neighbours are planning a July 10 public meeting. They wants answers to questions about how the refinery would impact health and the environment.

Invitations either have or will be extended to local health officials, the Environment Ministry, First Nations, local political leaders and Shell, Metcalfe said.

Neighbours feel betrayed by local elected officials who have stated publicly they’ll do anything in their power to push to project ahead, she said.

“We have (Sarnia-Lambton MPP) Bob Bailey and (St. Clair Township Mayor) Steve Arnold saying they’ll do what they can to remove obstacles. Is that what I am, an obstacle?”

Neighbour Gayle Farr has long opposed the project and has a sign posted on her front lawn that reads, “No to Shell.”

Walpole Island First Nation Chief Joseph Gilbert said his community’s main concern is the cumulative effects of industrial emissions.

“We have grave concerns about the health and environmental impacts,” he said, noting there are more than 60 industrial companies located upstream of Walpole already.

Walpole is calling for First Nation representation on an environmental panel that would study Shell’s proposal for a multi-billion-dollar refinery. The independent panel study would include full public hearings, the chief said.

“We don’t feel money should be the ultimate consideration. The panel review would take the decision out of the hands of those with a vested interest in seeing the project move forward.”

Company spokesperson Heather Cooper said Shell has worked closely with the community on its environmental process and will continue to encourage feedback.

The project is far from a done deal, she said. Several factors will determine whether it moves forward, including economics, environmental considerations, the regulatory process and public support.

Opposition does have an impact on whether it will proceed, Cooper said, calling it “an important component for the project.

Information about the proposal can be found online at, she added.

To provide feedback on the project, call 1-866-450-7221 or e-mail [email protected].

To contact the writer: [email protected]

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