CFIA: No Safe Route from Sydney to IW Disposal Site

I wrote last week that dealing with international waste (IW) at the Sydney Marine Terminal will involve more than simply getting in a stash of orange garbage bags.

You can read the details here, but the gist is that international waste coming off vessels must be segregated from domestic waste and transported to approved IW disposal sites. Responsibility for enforcing the rules and regulations overseeing IW disposal is shared by the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Disposing of IW in Sydney is one of the requirements Andrew Prossin of One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), purveyor of Arctic and Antarctic cruises, considers a prerequisite for making Sydney the company’s home port. Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking told the Cape Breton Post the issue was one of “planning and making sure staff is around,” but as the Spectator reported last week, that’s understating the case rather significantly.

CFIA approval is needed to establish an IW disposal site, but it is also needed to transport IW to an existing site. I asked the CFIA last week where the nearest IW disposal site to the Sydney Marine Terminal is located and I received an answer (by email) last Thursday from CFIA spokesperson Rod Lister:

There are two approved international waste disposal sites in Nova Scotia. They are both located in Dartmouth, NS. There are no international waste disposal facilities in close proximity to the Sydney Marine Terminal.

I also asked if the CFIA had approved a transport route from the Sydney Marine Terminal to an existing IW facility. Lister replied:

Important safeguards must be met in the approval of a transportation disposal route to reduce the risk of introducing plant diseases, pests and exotic animal diseases. The route chosen between the port of entry and the approved disposal site must be restricted to major roads if possible, and be within a reasonable distance from the port of entry, while avoiding livestock and agricultural crop areas.

As a result of these safeguards, CFIA has not approved a transport route from the Sydney Marine Terminal to an approved disposal site.

The transportation route from the Sydney Marine Terminal to the approved disposal sites in Dartmouth would be considered lengthy transportation of international waste through an area with a significant livestock population and agricultural crop production, thus it is not possible to achieve an acceptable level of protection to Canadian agriculture.

So the only option for the disposal of IW from the Sydney Marine Terminal would be to establish an IW disposal site nearby — and as I explained last week, that’s also easier said than done. Such sites are subject to strict conditions, and it is an open question whether the volume of IW generated by the Sydney Marine Terminal would justify the expense of establishing and maintaining one.

Perhaps it would — perhaps it would be a reasonable investment to make in support of port development, more reasonable than, say, paying a consultant (InterVistas) thousands of dollars to estimate the potential economic development of an international container terminal in Sydney harbor.

But handling international waste is clearly more than a question of “planning and making sure staff is around” and we need to be clear about that.


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