Fwd Hospital Bars Visit by PCBs Expert
- A long-simmering controversy over a proposed incinerator erupted in
Kirkland Lake again yesterday when North America's top medical expert
on the dangers of PCBs found himself barred from the local hospital.
Dr. Peter Orris, a professor of medicine at the University of
Illinois, whose visit was sponsored by the Ontario College of Family
Physicians, was told he wasn't welcome at the 60-bed Kirkland Lake
"I thought it was outrageous. I've given this talk at medical
facilities all over the world and I have never been turned away at
the door before. It reflects badly on the board of governors," said
Orris in a telephone interview from North Bay Airport, where he
caught a flight back to Chicago last night.
Orris, president of the medical staff at Cook County Hospital in
Chicago, said it's not uncommon for the medical staff of a facility
to invite him to a hospital to give an opinion.
"I'd be scandalized if it happened to someone I had invited," said
Orris, who spent the morning talking to medical staff at the nearby
New Liskeard Hospital, where the welcome mat was rolled out.
Hal Fjeldsted, Kirkland Lake Hospital chief executive officer, said
Orris was barred because organizers failed to get permission for his
That's "nonsense," said family practitioner Dr. Richard Denton. "We
frequently have various people visit the hospital to give lectures
and talk to the medical staff, but because he's a world expert who
was going to talk about the dangers of PCBs, he was barred."
Orris moved his lecture to a motel.
With a proposal by Vancouver-based Bennett Environmental Inc. for a
Kirkland Lake incinerator that would remove PCBs, dioxins and other
dangerous chemicals from contaminated soils going through the
environmental assessment process, local physicians wanted to hear
about any potential health risks, Denton said.
At their request, the Ontario College of Family Physicians sponsored
a visit by Orris, who is considered a world expert on the subject,
said Riina Bray, chair of the college's environmental health
Denton, a former mayor, initially supported the proposal as long as
it was to be "out in the middle of nowhere," but changed his mind
when he heard it was to be in town. He was one of 34 doctors who
signed an April 10 declaration that the facility is "not in the
public's best interest."
Mayor Bill Enouy, the pro-Adams Mine campaigner who won office just
as Toronto killed a plan to ship garbage there, said more than 80 per
cent of Kirkland Lake's 8,600 residents support Bennett's proposal
for a "contaminated soil thermo-treatment facility."
"Get it straight - it's not an incinerator," said Enouy.
Orris said he wasn't in town to discuss the pros and cons of the
"These organic pollutants, which are toxic to humans, are already
present in the environment. It's up to the people of Kirkland Lake to
determine if adding a little bit more is going to make a difference."
Ontario Hospital bars visit by PCBs expert
Speech caught up in controversy over waste facility
By Roberta Avery
The Toronto Star
Tuesday, October 1, 2002