Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reader wants Spinks to run!!!!

Originally uploaded by Oldmaison.
Hi Charles,

For the first time I checked out Spinks blog site ... yawn ! if he's not an irving bu_ boy I promise I'll eat my socks. I read some of his stuff it seems like he might want to run himself someday the way he bootlicks. I mean check this out...

Sunday, January 28, 2007
Will Saint John get a second Irving oil refinery?
Bashing the Irvings is a pastime for some people. Is it's justified but just as often it is not. It really doesn’t matter what the issue is. For some people, mention the word Irving and the fur begins to fly.

That’s a pretty common thing for big companies. McDonald’s and WalMart are other examples where there are those that love to hate them, just because of their name. Some folks have well thought out reasons for opposing these businesses but most are just sheep.

Now there’s news that the Irvings in New Brunswick are looking to set up a second oil refinery in Saint John. (The city is already home to Canada’s largest oil refinery). This would create a lot of construction jobs, perhaps 5000 and 1000 more long-term permanent jobs plus spinoffs. It also provides more oil refining capacity righet here in Canada.

The first step for the Irvings to make this happen is an Environmental Impact Assessment. Before this has even begun, the hard-core Chicken Littles have already made up their mind before seeing the case brought forward. It’s opposed because it’s a refinery and it's opposed because it’s the Irvings. Not true,,,its opposed because of the pollution number one reason.
he's calling David Suz a chicken little meaning David Suz concerns are blown out of porportion, much ado about nothing. therefore this must be the way he feels about the public too then ?? f him !
another blog on the same page talks about how Jack Keir former irving bu_ boy from the shipyard is the head of energy and that (here's the big part) that good ole jim boy blogs on his site and he's bragging about it ! If I had a blog site and Jim Keir wrote in and
supported big biz and talks atlantica I would let the other bloggers chew him up and spit him out ! does Spinks know that Atlantica is coming and that Jack Keir will become a big player in all this ? I really don't think this Spinks dude cares enough, he cares about himself like too many other around here. no wonder he got a favourable mention in the rag on the front page. now I see why. and now he's more warmed up to irving since, it is obvious. I will not be back to that blog.
if I could I would tell him off like I want to but I don't know how to do it without forwarding my email to him and I'm very particlular who I give my add to. irving supporters are not allowed in my add book !! I don't like him already. no wonder he has a high traffic rate on his visitor amount, that is if its a true count...he has just gotten lots of advertizment probably to help ward off readers from your site. he's an irving boy, no doubt on my mind. to get to the meat of the issues it takes guts and he hasn't got the guts.

At this point of our history, our economy runs on oil. Unless you’re completely off the power grid growing your own food in a Unabomber like cabin in the woods, you also depend on oil. If you don’t, you’re probably not reading this right now.

I’m looking forward to a really good discussion on the pros and cons of a second oil refinery in Saint John. At this point, I haven’t made up my mind whether it’s a good idea or a bad one, but I won’t make up my mind simply because the word Irving is attached to it.

posted by Spinks at 9:47 AM


Spinks said...

Hope those socks are tasty anon.

This e-mail Charles received completly goes to prove today's blog at my site. Bsshing the Irvngs is a pastime for some New Brunswickers for no other reason than its the Irvings. Did I praise the Irvings for something? Nope. I merely didn't write a whole blog bashing the Irvngs and to the anoymous e-mailer, I've committed a cardinal sin.

Just Passing said...

In here spinks you have sinned. Usually its followed by the "You must be an Irving employee". I don't know why it hasn't happened all ready..must be a slow day.

Anonymous said...

Yea Charles is one of those people who always blames the Irvings.

Anonymous said...

MISPEC, N.B. (CP) - Memories run deep in this coastal town, deep enough to turn fishermen and residents into passionate opponents of Irving Oil's proposal to build a second huge oil refinery on the outskirts of Saint John.

Roger Hunter, 55, puffs on a cigarette while walking near his lobster traps, and recalls how Irving employees "in black suits" came to this community in 1970 to explain that supertankers would soon be sailing within sight of Mispec harbour to offload crude oil for the new refinery - now the largest in Canada.

Ever since then, Hunter says, he's lost gear and had to steam further to reach his traps in the Bay of Fundy.

"They've continued to destroy fishing gear for 35 years and have never paid me a dime for any of it," says Hunter.

"Now they want to build another refinery out here?"

If approved, the $7-billion project would represent the first time a refinery has been built in North America in 25 years.

It would take up to 7,000 people to build the facility and 1,000 would
work there, producing up to 300,000 barrels per day of oil, diesel and
petroleum coke - mainly for the U.S. market.

More recently, the local fishermen have been in talks with Irving to
determine whether they'll receive compensation for the company's
liquefied natural gas terminal, which will result in an enlarged
"exclusion zone" the fishermen must steam around.

At Irving Oil's Saint John offices, the refinery's project manager,
Kevin Scott, says such grievances are inevitable for a company that has a long history in the community.
"We are progressing with the fishermen," he says. "It's taken longer than anyone thought. Things are always more complicated when you
actually get into the details."

A consultant's report on the LNG plant's impact on fishermen, paid for by the company, is being prepared, he says.In setting up and running a refinery, and the pipelines and marine
terminals that go with it, planning takes years and unresolved problems
can linger, argues Scott.

"When you live in a community, it's like being in a family. People
aren't going to agree on everything, and when you have 80 years of
history, there will have been bumps along the way."Last Thursday, the company unveiled details of its refinery proposal,
which showed the Irvings had purchased almost 800 hectares of land in the Red Head, Anthony's Cove and Mispec areas, five kilometres south of Saint John.

Hunter says when the massive towers and stacks go up, the residents who
live along the area's twisting highway will gradually move away,
fearing for their health.
"Irving has bought much of the land here. I believe that in 10 years nobody will be here," he says.

Five kilometres away, in the Forest Hills neighbourhood just north of
Irving's existing refinery, some residents say they have little trust
in the company.

Pat Barsolou, a retired city employee, says he needs proof the existing
refinery will reduce its emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic
compounds and particulates before he can support another development.

The existing refinery sits like a giant's Meccano set across a shallow
valley. When the wind blows inland, Barsolou and his wife Connie say
they often stay indoors to avoid powerful odours "that make life very, very uncomfortable."

"At two or three in the morning, in late spring or summer, I hear her
wheezing and I get up and shut off the air exchanger and close the
windows. I come back and she's taking a couple of shots of the puffer to get her breathing going again," he says.

Barsalou, who is part of a committee pushing for improved air quality
in the city, said he's convinced the reaction is caused by the

"I think if the Irvings cleaned up their existing pollutants, if they
could clean up their act on that, I don't think anybody would have a

Scott notes that the company has spent $2 billion upgrading the
existing refinery over the last decade, and about $100 million of it
has been dedicated to reducing sulphur dioxide emissions and to reduce sulphur in the gasoline, with an additional $70-million project
currently underway to reduce sulphur dioxide.

"That will take us to the lowest per barrel sulphur dioxide emissions
of any refinery in Canada. In some of the other areas, like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, we're middle of the pack, but we continue to improve each year," he said.

Dr. Scott Giffin, the city's medical officer of health, hears
complaints about the strong odours and respiratory reactions like the
one Barsolou describes.

He agrees that regular monitoring of air quality shows Irving Oil has
improved emissions at its plant, particularly sulphur dioxide, since
the mid-1990s.

He also recognizes that people need jobs in a city where one in four children live below the Statistics Canada poverty line.

"Inevitably, these things end up being tradeoffs to some degree," he
says. "Employment can be an important part of being healthy."
Still, Giffin argues there are environmental problems that could be
cleared up before Irving is granted approval for its next refinery

Two years ago, he asked the company to decrease emissions of volatile
organic compounds, such as benzene vapours, that are released into the
atmosphere as gasoline is transferred into tanker ships in the city's Courtney Bay pier.

"There's no unit to re-capture vapours. So when you load you get some discharge in the air of fumes, and if the wind is right, it blows it right over a certain part of East Saint John. A lot of people respond
to that," he says.

"I would like to have it fixed. It's an area we don't know much about
because we don't have monitors that will pick up those sorts of things."
The company is working on it, says Scott, noting that a study is
underway and improvements are being made to the seals on the ships'
loading tanks.

"We're going to look at those results (of the study) and we're going to make decisions about implementing a project" to deal with the emissions, he says.

"One of the challenges in the refining industry is when a change needs to be made, to properly plan it and assess it, that takes a number of years to do."

But some local fishermen say there have been too many delays and too many studies for their liking.

"They say they want to build another refinery, (but) I lose enough gear
already," says Hunter. "With the fresh ship traffic, it'll double. We
can't afford to take that hit anymore."

Anonymous said...

Actually, the reverse is true, the Irvings get a notoriously free ride for a corporation of their size. There are millions of corporations in the world, there are hundreds of massive ones, and there is a reason why Wal Mart and McDonalds are pinpointed-it certainly isn't because of their name. How much protest do you see going on over at Harveys and Swiss Chalet?

As for Irvings, this site is virtually the ONLY place where you hear anything negative about the company. Rather than skipping those threads or simply avoiding the blog, people vent at any criticism of Irvings as though its irrational and undeserved.

As the above article shows, any opposition here is simply giving voice to what many have long believed. Go ask that fisherman whose life has gotten harder and health worse why he's attacking Irving 'just because of the name'.

For ease of use though, here's a 1-2-3 on why people are 'attacking' the plan before an environmental review:

1. Everybody knows provincial EIA are a joke and always have been. Some are calling at least for a federal one, but its doubtful that will happen.

2. The EIA is paid for by Irvings. Well, not really because the tax incentives and deals they get would easily cover it. More importantly, consultants know full well who pays their bills, and with very little public input its a foregone conclusion.

3. Even a cost-benefit analysis won't be done. These used to be part of the EIA process, but not in NB. As the article above says, these fishermen never got a dime for their troubles. That's Irvings choice, so they should be held liable for it. A cost benefit analysis would include questionairres to other businesses asking them how difficult it will get to find workers to locate in Saint John, how much more compensation they may have to offer to induce people, and the big one, how likely they are to pack up and leave for less polluted areas. Not too mention the loss of fishing revenue and a local 'way of life' for many people. As well as the economic costs of the increased hospital visits and other health effects. That won't be done, and will only be reported sporadically, if at all.

4. The LNG deal showed exactly how the Irvings run business. That they sued to have oil storage costs removed from taxation shows they will use every legal loophole, and there are lots of them, to avoid as many taxes as possible. So nobody knows, in the end, exactly how much it will cost. The government in NB is one of the most secretive, and Irving is a private company which is notoriously secretive, so to what extend taxpayers are actually propping up the refinery is unknown.

5. Even the article shows the one sided reporting. People may claim 'ah, but see they are showing the opposition'. Of course just mentioning the opposition isn't 'coverage', its just a story. Notice they were sure to put in that this particular fisherman was a smoker so that people can blame his wife's wheezing on that.

Notice too that opposition is always linked to personal experiences, not to objective science. That way people can disregard it as 'opinion'. Over at another thread people can read half a dozen postings on the research that has been conducted on Saint John, specifically the increased health effects over other jurisdictions, and environmental damage.

NO reference to scientific studies is mentioned, in fact that's usual at Irving's papers. Unions have long complained that even on stories about unions the Irvings do not contact them for comment, but refer to 'experts', usually at AIMS or other anti union organizations.

Notice also that they are 'upping the ante', they used to say it was 5000 construction jobs, now they are saying 7000. As mentioned though, the construction of the confederation bridge had a very short term effect on labour, and those have long vanished. Notice also that the 1000 permanent jobs are mentioned over and above the 7000, which isn't true, since the vast majority of those jobs will be hirings of construction workers.

Notice that the only real benefit is those jobs, and for comparison Irving press or Irving Oil COULD tell the people of New Brunswick how many employees work at the refinery, but they don't.

They claim 7000 employees in total, no mention on whether that includes cashiers at their stations, but it includes their entire company, which means that I suspect there are far fewer working at the refinery than people think.

People have to remember that during the strike only management and some scabs ran the refinery, and they claimed things ran pretty well (of course they didn't mention all the health and environmental obstructions because they didn't know what they were doing). That means that Irving is able to function an entire refinery with a minimal staff. So again, that 1000 employees may be grossly overrated and the company has a strong tendency towards contract work.

But that's the usual line when anybody says anything bad about the overlords-critics are just 'being too hard on them' and 'picking on them because their Irvings'. Critics are 'chicken little' even though the objective verifiable health effects of just one refinery are very clear. We should note though that Irving has long fingers and there is not nearly the number of studies done on Saint John and these pollutants as their should be.

So it's actually the critics who are attempting to be objective. Everybody knows what jobs mean to people, the question has yet to be answered as to what effect having a large private corporation own so much has on investment. It's a vicious cycle-the more you give in to Irving, the more you HAVE to give in to Irving because they own more and more.

These are questions largely outside the political arena, New Brunswickers have no choice in the matter. Then usually comes out the 'you can't do anything about it so why talk about it' reasoning. That line is far more common than the 'chicken little' remarks, which only appear on the streets and on blogs-never in the public because Irving owns most of the media.

Finally, notice the claim that Irving thinks 'they are like a family'. That's a weird analogy and only the Irving press would print that. Of course people are supposed to know who is the parent in that family, and the idea that refusing to clean up and meet minimal environmental regulations is hardly 'just bumps'.

The family analogy is also useful, because the association is supposed to be that like a sibling who has a successful other sibling, New Brunswickers are supposed to be proud because IRving does so well. Notice they even mention how many oil barrels and the often mentioned 'largest refinery in canada'. However, since most of that oil goes to the states and Saint John has the highest gas prices around, that means little to the people of Saint John.

In a fuctional democracy these would be 'points of negotiation', meaning that if a company wants to do harmful things, they make compensation. So more massive pollution, would mean that Irving would have to provide permanent jobs with good benefits. It would mean they would have to meet environmental conditions at whatever cost they are, and not simply brag on how much money they spend on upgrades even while not meeting environmental standards. It's interesting that the fact that the refinery routinely breaks NB's already lousy standards wasn't mentioned in the story either.

Anonymous said...

To be fair though, that 'pro Irving' line is not just held by Irving employees. Spinks is a pretty conservative commentator, so that he has that view of Irving or of people 'who dare speak His name in vain' is not suprising. But rarely is the name Irving even mentioned at his blog. Business issues are never mentioned there, which is suspicious, but doesn't mean he's an Irving lackey any more than anybody else. The website '' used to be active for a bit, but i'm not even sure if its up any more. With so much control of the economy in their hands there not only should be blogs on it, there should be a governmental department that just handles irving issues.

Anonymous said...

That article is from todays Telegraph Journal by the way.

Spinks said...

Anon 9:19 and 9:23 (the same I believe), an "I hate Irving" site is virtually useless if it only exists to bash Irvings because its Irving. If Irving wants to install a new pop machine in SJ, there's opposition just because its Irving. As Charles original blog proves, anyone who doesn't out and out bash the Irvings just because they're the Irvings is met with scorn. Here's a chance for enviornmentalists to actually work with the Irvings and force them to spend big bucks to make the refinery as green as possible but some are already blowing any chance of that by simply poo-pooing the whole idea without even seeing it.

Anonymous said...

You think people have never seen an oil refinery before? I think people know what an oil refinery is, especially in Saint John, there's one right there.

However, again we see the propaganda that the Irving opportunists bring out. All criticisms of Irving is just being unreasonable, even when their plans will easily result in the premature deaths of dozens, probably hundreds in Saint John.

If Irving puts pop machines around we never hear about it, that's how little criticism of them there is. In fact there is almost no mention of individual stores or Irving companies even here. A couple of blogs down it even says 'god bless irving' with a guy with an irving cup. But that's how opposition to Irving is handled, people seem affronted that others would even DARE oppose Irving. The idea is what Irving wants Irving gets and you might as well climb on board. In reality,its not like if somebody were to make a criticism and then say "Ok, I'll get on board if you invite me in to help plan the schematics, operations, and resources of the new refinery". That's just ludicrous and Irving would laugh at people who said that.

They had all kinds of opportunities in the past. THere is an Irving refinery there now that regular, almost always exceeds the allowable air pollution. People say 'hey, could you stop that', and their response is 'when we get around to it'. If somebody thinks something is a bad idea, they are quite right to oppose it. But there are others who couldn't care less about the environment, or the people of Saint John, and simply realize that what Irving wants they get, so there is no point debating. That's far from the case, while it is HIGHLY likely they will get what they want, that is by no means a certainty, and no reason for people to sit idly by. IF people can get organized they can make a political impact, its happened in the past, it can happen in the present or future. Whether they will or not is debateable, I suspect, though I don't know, that most will simply try to get as far away from the city as is humanly possible. However, in reality a lot of people aren't even aware of how much pollution comes from a refinery or what kind of effect it has. Again, we don't know, but anybody with the guts to stand up and oppose Irving are the bravest people I've come across.

Just Passing said...

Actually anonymous 4:18 its not that people are "affronted that others would even DARE oppose Irving" as you seem to think. Its that those like yourself don't or won't stop your incessent whining long enough to actually hear what anyone has to say. If by chance someone does happen to suggest that there indeed might be more to consider than your own myopic narrow point of view to concider your response is to accuse them of being Irving Lackeys and then rant another 4 paragraphs of the same drivel. You in fact give those that really have reason and I might as the knowledge to oppose a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Thats just another special little tactic. If somebody actually has LOTS of criticisms and puts them all out there for debate then they are "just whining" and "not interested in debate". The exact opposite is true, people don"t WANT debate, they want people to "just shut up".

There are six studies posted on the other thread about Saint John, and many on the hazards of benzene. These aren"t "my view" they are objective scientific studies that people could go to and read-its telling that all the people so interested in debate probably never bothered. Once again the idea is that those who actually oppose Irving are "being unreasonable". If a person just makes a simple comment then they "just don"t know the facts", yet if they POST the facts then "they"re just whining".

There is a normal reaction to criticism of Irving, you can see it at Spinks site as well, the initial assumption people are supposed to accept is that "Irving does what he wants", so debate isnt supposed to be why its a bad idea, but simply arguing the specifics of HOW to build a refinerty. Even environmentalists who know full well the massive environmental pollution spewed out from these things are supposed to simply "comment on ways to minimize damage".

Sorry folks, but that will be covered at Irvings papers, here we have free speech.

There is absolutely nothing stopping people from posting, and as the other thread shows, not only do I respond but I research the points people make and respond to each point individually. Thats certainly more than other posters have done.

So once again reality is the exact opposite of the view posted above. We"ve established that the Irving refinery will bring jobs, that"s true and its better than no jobs. However, that point is debat ed simply by mentioned that it appears the construction of the terminal employs 300 people fewer than earlier reports, and we know from Irvings own paper that it may only supply eight jobs.

For the refinery the construction jobs vary, as more criticism comes out the Irving papers have added 2000 construction jobs to their "estimates". Yet as said, the older refinery ran for two years with a skeleton crew, so its very likely that the 1000 jobs thrown around may be an over-estimation. As somebody mentioned elsewhere, there are no studies out there on the effects of that strike, we do know that there were many "incidents" where improper maintenance and safety concerns lapsed because there was not the staff to deal with them.

And since they are hiring people out west the construction will do nothing for the poverty in Saint John. As it would be contract based its doubtful that most of the people will be in a position to buy homes, they would just rent for the three years or so of construction.

And then opposing that limited potential for jobs there is the trade off that knowledge based companies and service exporting companies (which are the fastest growing industries in the country) wont go near the city because it will be so heavily polluted.

And then there are the citizens of Saint John themselves who may already have employment and will not benefit at all from the economic incentives, but will DEFINITELY be impacted by the result-namely more health problems, more pollution, less standard of living. And thats a sizeable population there, far far more than the number who will work there.

If making all those points is "whining", well, get used to it. Go to the Irving papers where no doubt you"ll see full coverage of all the wonderful things that Irving will bring to the city. Odd that one of the two richest families in the world have never thought to bestow anything before and Saint John has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada.

But for those interested in debate, by all means challenge any or all the assertions above. Thats what debate is, and usually when people start talking about the messenger its a good sign that they dont have much to debate with.

For the above studies, all you have to do is go to and type in "saint john, new brunswick" for a complete listing. Benzene and "health effects" for the problems coming from the chemical. I"ve not done it yet but refineries are big polluters of VOCs, which also have a harsh effect on health, and there are hundreds of those. Those SHOULD be all researched, but dont expect it from Irving papers who virtually never cite scientific data.

On the other side, of course, a NEW refinery MAY have mechanisms in place to utilize some of the refinery wastes. No doubt this will be partly covered, since we know Irving is looking into plastics manufacturing. The safety of those products should be investigated as well, again, they wont be by Irving.

So this debate is just getting started, so get used to it.

Charles LeBlanc said...

Especially since there's no open talk show!!!

It's over!!!

Anonymous said...

I think people may overestimate the power of a call in show. I've never seen any piece of municipal or provincial legislation that was changed because people called into a call in show.

However, to actually stop a refinery from Irving would need a lot of participation from national organizations, and that's doubtful. Most Saint Johners probably have no idea what the effects of the refinery are, they certainly don't talk about them in the media.

But like they say, never judge a man until you've seen how they act in a fight they can't win. Some people are never willing to stand up to the powerful, some will gladly join with them, but this is all just starting.