A waste management plan for Metro Vancouver that includes waste-to-energy incineration has been approved by the B.C. Environment Minister.
The approval includes a number of pre-conditions, including consultation with the Fraser Valley Regional District before WTE incineration sites are approved.
But none of it is acceptable to FVRD chair Patricia Ross or Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
“We have undertaken three years of world-wide research looking at the best of WTE technology, and there’s none of them acceptable in this airshed,” Ross said.
Environment minister Terry Lake has “completely missed the point” of the FVRD’s objections to WTE, she said, which is that a new point source of pollutants should not be added to the Fraser Valley airshed “even with the best of standards.”
Ross called on Fraser Valley residents to take a stand against proposed WTE sites like they did against the SE2 power plant and “bombard” the minister with emails of opposition.
“This will be worse than SE2 because the toxins will be way worse,” she said.
Gaetz called on Premier Christy Clark to “overthrow” the minister’s decision, and for Chilliwack MLAs John Les and Barry Penner to stand up for the Fraser Valley.
Les opposed building WTE facilities at a public meeting last summer, and Penner was a vocal opponent of SE2.
Ross said WTE facilities will only be required to report a “small handful of the pollutants” actually emitted, “so what they say they will emit and what is actually going into the air are two very different stories.”
“What will happen is what we saw happen in Durham, Ontario,” she said, where the company bidding for approval claimed a low amount of emissions would be produced.
“They are now admitting double the particulate matter emissions than they originally estimated,” Ross said. “But now, no one wants to go back and revisit, so it proceeds regardless of the impacts.”
Gaetz said if the environment minister hoped to “placate” the Fraser Valley with promises of consultation “we are not placated.”
“We are angry and frustrated,” she said. “We are opposed to incineration, period.”
“To think that Metro Vancouver will be able to put more garbage into our airshed is frustrating to us,” she said.
Ben West at the Wilderness Committee also criticized the decision.
“The real fight will begin when they pick a location and try to build one of these pollution-spewing garbage-burning monsters,” he said.
“Wherever they try to do this, we will be there to make sure people know the truth about what is being proposed in their backyard,” he said.
The pre-conditions include:
• consultation with the FVRD to address air quality concerns prior to construction of a new or expanded WTE facility.
• establishment of a working group with the FVRD to develop recommendations on WTE emission standards and environmental monitoring, as well as mitigation measures to address “reasonable concerns of the FVRD” with respect to additional WTE in-region.
If no agreement can be reached an arbitrator is to make a recommendation and report to the environment minister.