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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LSS students lift each other up for Anti Bullying Day

Schools across the nation come together to unite against bullying on Feb. 26

Inked magazine cover hopeful receiving strong local voting support

Chemainus Secondary grad and Ladysmith resident a strong contender for the top prize

LSS improv teams finish second in Vancouver Island competition

GISS from Salt Spring Island will advance to the national competition

Saskia and Darrel deliver high volume of Canadian content

Songs with great storylines to be featured in Chemainus performance

VIDEO: One person treated for minor burns in Crofton fire

Firefighters were called out at 7 a.m. to a blaze at the Twin Gables Motel

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also lead police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Most Read