TORONTO-Toronto City Council voted 11-5 to continue using PVC pipe for water and sewage lines but agreed to two restrictions on its use and disposal. During a lengthy April 29 meeting, city council members voted to restrict PVC pipe use in contaminated land and to ban it from incinerators. Toronto's Board of Health sought to have the city stop buying and using the pipe altogether, based on alleged health and safety claims made by Greenpeace and other opponents.
Council member Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, who voted in favor of PVC pipe, said the restrictions will have little impact on Toronto's use of the building material. Korwin-Kuczynski, who is chairman of Toronto's services committee, said in a telephone interview that Toronto has not used much PVC pipe in contaminated soil and it does not incinerate it.
Council member Peter Tabuns, chairman of the Board of Health, claimed the restrictions are a minor victory for opponents of PVC pipe. He said a total ban on purchasing the pipe ``was a tough sell'' because jobs and profits associated with its use are easier to prove than alleged ``diffuse and subtle'' health effects.
``I suggest the plastics industry move away from PVC,'' Tabuns warned in a telephone interview.
According to Tabuns, its use in sewer lines might not be a big issue but he is leery about its use in water lines.
Tom Torokvei, chairman of the Vinyl Council of Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, stated in a news release that ``the studies and research results presented to the city of Toronto, coupled with the proven energy savings associated with vinyl pipe usage, conclusively prove that vinyl is the superior environmental alternative.''
Tabuns conceded the health board will not push the issue again in the near future ``but I don't think it is over by a long shot. Maybe another jurisdiction will go further.''
Tabuns compared the PVC pipe issue to early concerns about lead and PCB contamination that were downplayed until enough scientific evidence accumulated to show they can cause health problems.
Korwin-Kuczynski stressed the health board was on a ``witch hunt'' against the pipe. He conceded the issue could arise again at city council if a regulatory agency recommends a ban.