Henry Derish takes a break from picking up trash to dispose of pallet nails left behind on the Fraser River beach at Gill Road during a cleanup on Saturday, March 24, 2018. (Greg Laychak/ Progress file)

Henry Derish takes a break from picking up trash to dispose of pallet nails left behind on the Fraser River beach at Gill Road during a cleanup on Saturday, March 24, 2018. (Greg Laychak/ Progress file)

Chilliwack mayor says it’s time to scrap pallet fires

When people torch pallets they create air and water pollution and increase wildfire risks

It’s time to scrap pallet fires, according to Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove.

“Summer is here, but pallet fires belong in the past,” he said in a City of Chilliwack press release.

Pallets left free for the taking by local businesses are often burned illegally in environmentally sensitive areas, like on gravel bars or in bush surrounding Chilliwack. Then the burned remnants of those fires are left behind for others to clean up.

“There is a small group of hardworking volunteers who spend countless hours every year cleaning our recreational areas in the wake of pallet fires,” Popove said. “In addition to other litter and illegally dumped items, they have kept fish, wildlife, and us safe from thousands of pounds of nails. This is a heavy burden and we all need to help make it a little lighter.”

READ MORE: Pallet fires are burning out volunteers

Wood pallets are often chemically treated or painted. When burned, they create pollution that negatively affects respiratory health, increase risk of wildfires, and leave behind nails and chemical residues that are harmful to fish, wildlife and people.

The city’s open air burning bylaw, the provincial Environmental Management Act, and the Wildfire Act prohibit the burning of pallets in the City of Chilliwack. While the Chilliwack Fire Department responds to reports of pallet fires, many go unreported. In order to address this, the City also supports cleanup efforts.

“Local businesses can help these volunteers by ensuring pallets are managed responsibly so they don’t end up polluting our natural areas,” Popove said. “Residents can assist by avoiding campfires altogether or choosing untreated, local firewood and reporting pallet fires if they see them.”

More at chilliwack.com/stopdumping

READ MORE: Gate installed at Gill Road

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