Greenpeace activists drop a protest banner as the cargo ship MV Bavaria, the container vessel allegedly hired to ship containers loaded with garbage from Canada, slowly entered Subic Bay, Thursday, May 30 in the Philippines. The banner reads: Philippines is not a dumpsite! (Greenpeace Via AP)

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

The prospect of air pollution one day wafting through the Fraser Valley from international garbage being incinerated is very disturbing, said Jason Lum, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District.

“From what we understand, Metro Vancouver is going to be burning the material from the Philippines at their Burnaby facility,” Lum said. “We have a major concern about the timing of this given that we are just about to head into a potentially devastating wildfire season.”

An estimated 1,500 tonnes of waste is being shipped back to Canada to be burned.

Metro Vancouver announced last month it plans to safely incinerate the contents of 69 shipping containers of repatriated recycling and other waste, as the upshot of a six-year dispute between Canada and the Philippines.

But questions remain.

Lum said FVRD officials are hoping to receive assurances about what air quality risks residents will face, and he had hoped Metro reps could have found alternatives to incinerating the materials.

“Adding any pollution to an already compromised airshed would be untenable,” Lum said.

The long-held position at the FVRD is that waste should always be sorted with recyclables extracted, not incinerated or landfilled, so Lum said the idea of Metro regularly accepting international waste to feed the incinerator is a real worry.

“My concern is two-fold,” Lum said Wednesday. “Number one is that while Metro Vancouver may have a clear understanding of the components of this garbage, we do not.

“Number two is that we are looking for assurances from Metro, and other governments, that this a one-off for extenuating circumstances and does not signal a change in policy. The acceptance of international waste to feed their incinerator is a real worry.”

Metro Vancouver officials said in a news release in May that they are still confident that they can “safely and efficiently” deal with the waste at their Waste-to-Energy Facility (WTEF).

Audits done by CFIA show the waste is about 95 per cent recyclables like paper and plastic, with “low levels of contaminants” found. It was initially shipped from the Port of Vancouver to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.

“Strict handling and disposal criteria must be followed whenever there is a risk of biological or agricultural contamination,” said Jack Froese, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee.

“Waste-to-Energy is the best option for secure disposal because there is no potential for contact with wildlife, and no potential for waste to leave the facility following disposal.”

The returning waste will take about two days to process at the WTEF.

“With one of the highest recycling and waste reduction rates in North America and a sustainable system for managing residual garbage, Metro Vancouver is uniquely capable of safely disposing of this material in an environmentally responsible manner,” added Froese.

Chris Allan, director of solid waste operations for Metro Vancouver, the material coming back from the Philippines is expected to be “completely safe,” after it’s processed if the initial audits are correct, and they believe the waste is “representative” of other Canadian recycling waste, with only trace contamination.

As it stands, Metro’s WTEF in Burnaby operates seven days a week, and 24 hours a day. A good chunk of the plant is dedicated to air pollution control, with continuous emissions monitoring, he noted.

“That’s where we minimize the elements going up the stacks,” said Allan.

Plant operators reduce the potential for air pollution in a number of ways, from lime and carbon injection, to ammonia injection, they treat the gases produced by incineration. Also a fabric membrane filters out any airborne materials, like fly ash, that emanate from the flue stack.

Metro Vancouver has been working with Environment and Climate Change Canada on the logistics of receiving waste, with the aim of disposing of it before the end of the summer. They also plan to conduct further audits on the contents as a precaution before processing.

The FVRD has not formally met with Metro Vancouver officials to discuss this matter yet.

“I hope the results of any waste audit will be shared with FVRD prior to starting the incineration of this waste,” Lum added.

READ MORE: Burnaby WTEF to dispose of trash

READ MORE: Cargo ship arrives to pick up trash


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it (large or actual) to editor@trailtimes.ca

World Jr. A Challenge: Team Canada West loads up on Trail Smoke Eaters

Four Trail Smoke Eaters named to the Team Canada West roster for World Jr. A Challenge

Weather warning for West Kootenay passes

Up to 20 cm expected to fall at higher elevations

Two accidents block Hwy 3 east of Christina Lake

Fire chief: pregnant female in vehicle that rolled off the road was headed to Trail to have her baby

Trail task force recommends more needle drops

The last meeting of 2020 was held at Trail City Hall last week

VIDEO: A brief history of bumps in the Trudeau-Trump relationship

Remember Peter Navarro saying ‘there’s a special place in hell’ for a foreign leader who aims to cheat?

Man killed in crash due to ‘absolutely treacherous’ conditions on Coquihalla

Winter means icy roads are dangerous and drivers should be careful, RCMP say

Bag of cocaine left in B.C. grocery store aisle

RCMP: ‘We sure would like to talk to’ person who left drugs behind

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

The Crown is seeking four to six years federal time; the defence wants 18 months in provincial jail

RCMP officer was justified using hose in rooftop standoff: B.C. watchdog

Police watchdog finds officers actions reasonable when man injured in 2018 incident

Cannabis ice cream? Province prepares for B.C. Bud edibles

Mike Farnworth’s special police unit takes down dispensaries

Union for parole officers at B.C. halfway house says public safety at risk

Increase in parole officers’ workload dealing with highest-risk offenders raises concern

B.C. bans logging in sensitive Silverdaisy area in Skagit River Valley

Minister says no more timber licences will be awarded for the area, also known as the ‘doughnut hole’

Surrey fugitive captured in California was motivated by revenge, $160,000: court documents

Brandon Teixeira, charged with murder, wants to return to Canada ‘as soon as possible,’ says lawyer

Most Read