When the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver) fired up its new incinerator in Burnaby in 1988, there was a requirement to test the soil and vegetation for heavy metals and other harmful substances produced by incinerators for three years following the facility's start-up.
A report was produced in 1990 that found lead, mercury, cadmium and other harmful substances in various crops in the six agricultural sites in Richmond, Delta and Burnaby that they tested.
The report recommended that "a routine soil and vegetation monitoring schedule be established."
But ongoing monitoring of soil and vegetation is not being carried out.
Instead, the Ministry of Environment requires only "source" and "ambient" monitoring, which includes smoke stack monitoring and an ambient monitoring station on the roof of the Burnaby South High School.
The rationale for not monitoring levels of toxic substances in soil and vegetation is that "it is not scientifically possible to determine the source of any contaminants found in the soils and to link soil sampling results directly to emissions from the incinerator."
If you don't measure it, it doesn't exist.
Pic: Burnaby incinerator, August 2008