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Hoarding, politicking and regulating

The 2nd annual International Sites and Spills Expo in Toronto was nothing less than ambitious.


The 2nd annual International Sites and Spills Expo in Toronto was nothing less than ambitious.

Through more than 40 expert speakers the wide scope of the Expo covered three comprehensive tracks in hazardous materials, remediation and clean technology — all in just two days over November 7 – 8, 2012.

The International Centre played host to this year’s Expo, which included a keynote speaker session by northern Ontario author and entrepreneur Gord McGuinty. The topic? How to protect project developments from politics and media in this age of technological scrutiny.

“That news is out and developing in the marketplace and the community’s psyche before the company’s even had a chance to react. That’s what we’re up against today,” McGuinty warned the Expo’s delegates.

McGuinty, author of TRASHED, is best known for being part of the controversial Adams Mine landfill project of the early nineties. It was a time he said he wasn’t “aggressive enough” in his defence of the project when criticism — especially environmental criticism — started to build around the idea of sending Toronto’s garbage north to a defunct iron mine.

In the end, McGuinty’s mega-project was crushed under the weight of the controversy.

Another celebrity keynote speaker at the Expo, Cory Chalmers, had the unenviable task of conducting a slideshow presentation of disturbing images of hoarder homes just minutes after the Expo’s breakfast wrapped.  

Chalmers, host of the hit A&E show Hoarders, is a remediation expert when it comes to decluttering the homes of isolated people who struggle to part ways with the things they own, be it animals, magazines, or their own body’s waste.

“It’s not just a towel and a bucket. It’s a serious job,” Chalmers told the Expo’s delegates.

Chalmers, CEO and founder of Steri-Clean, Inc., shocked the Expo with hoarding facts. He told the story of one woman who claimed not to have a cent to her name. After his cleanup crew finished wading through the mounds of garbage stashed in the woman’s home, more than $220,000 in savings bonds were found among the mess.

Chalmers warned that five out of every 100 homes you drive past contain hoarders. More often that not, these people are psychologists, engineers and professors, he explained.

The final Expo slot was left to David McRobert, an Ontario-based environmental lawyer and contributor to HazMat Management magazine.

McRobert, author of My Municipal Recycling Program Made Me Fat and Sick, led the Expo’s delegates through the dizzying array of changes to environmental approval systems in Ontario and at the federal level.

In recent years, Ontario in particular has expanded from just a few dozen environmental regulations to more than 200 regulations, McRobert told the Expo’s delegates.

While the regulatory changes can be daunting, McRobert encouraged delegates to put regulators to work if they need to iron out confusing details for a project.

“Know your regulators,” McRobert said. “They’re pretty helpful. You can just call them.”

The International Sites and Spills Expo is produced by HazMat Management magazine and the Business Information Group, Canada’s largest publisher of trade and business magazines and directories.


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