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

VIDEO: District of Kent reenacts 1895 meeting

Event kicks off year-long celebration of 125 years as district

Hope-raised NHL official among BC Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

Jay Sharrers officiated 1,419 regular NHL games, plus Stanley Cup finals and Olympics

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

DNA confirms SUV struck and killed Abbotsford cyclist in 2015, court hears

Kerry Froese operated company that owned vehicle that struck and killed Ronald James Scott in 2015

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Party bus door fault for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Most Read