Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Politicians want soil testing for Burnaby incinerator emissions

After a week of sustained public relations centred around the reassuring message that dioxins from waste incineration are not a health concern (... greater exposure from 15 minutes at a fireworks display, intoned Metro's visiting expert Jim Bridges over and over) it was clear at last Thursday's meeting of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee that dioxin is still an issue to some of our politicians.

Two delegations raised concerns about dioxins and other emissions at the beginning of the meeting.

Elaine Golds (Burke Mountain Naturalists) pointed out that the Burnaby incinerator seemed clean but that there was no soil testing going on. She said that Metro was proposing a 3 - 5 fold increase in emissions from additional incinerators and she was concerned about the cumulative load of emitted compounds, especially at dairy farms in the region.

Rick Glumac, a citizen member of Port Moody's Environmental Protection Committee, showed a photo of a baby to remind the committee of what was at stake if we failed to control emissions. He said that there is no continuous monitoring of dioxins at the Burnaby incinerator (a fact confirmed to me at a tour of the incinerator this month: dioxins are measured manually once every two years).

Vancouver Councillor David Cadman asked staff why there has been no soil testing from the Burnaby incinerator.

(There were tests of the soil and vegetation carried out at 7 sites in the region for 2 years before and 2 years after the Burnaby incinerator was commissioned. The report on the test findings recommended ongoing testing of soils and vegetation. This has not happened.)

Councillor Cadman asked about the dissemination of dioxin and other emissions beyond the local area and mentioned high levels of toxic compounds being found in Inuit women's breast milk.

Brenda Broughton from Lion's Bay also voiced concern. Burnaby Councillor Dan Johnston said he wanted the dioxin results for Burnaby.


rootabegarootabega said...

Why hasn't any soil testing been done around the 25-year-old Burnaby incinerator?
Easy - people would flip out if they saw the results.

This is massive, but invaluable, read for all waste-reduction activists:

Go to Section 8 of the report for the low-down on Municipal Waste Inceration emissions.

Have a look at Table 8.17- PCDD/F in Residues from Large Scale Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators on page 167, and marvel at the GVRD's (Burnaby's) contribution. Technical terms and acronyms are explained in the first part of the report.

An earlier version of this report was even better, because a reading by reading accounting of emissions per plant over several years was provided in table form. I can't seem to find that in this report.

Keep up the good work.
Waste to energy (aka waste of energy) is to garbage what nuclear power is to electricity - freaking insane!!

rootabegarootabega said...

I think I need to re-post the link to the Chandler Report commissioned by CCME:

rootabegarootabega said...

My apologies. I'll try again:

The last part of the link (see above for the rest):


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Katherine V.D. said...

I think this link has the data from the first few years of testing for the soil concentrations. I could not find this before when the Metro Vancouver consultations were happening, but now returning to the project, I was able to find it. Possible all the comotion made it available.

Helen said...

This 1992 study provides the data they found. A 1990 study -- which is not posted on the Metro website -- contains recommendations. The report was clear in its recommendation that a "regular routine" of testing be carried out: "In the absence of historical trends for soil and vegetation trace element and PAH concentrations, it is important taht a sound database is established during the initial years of the incinerator operation. It is recommended that a routine monitoring schedule be established (every second year).... It is recommended that a region-wide soils and vegetation monitoring program be established to investigate whether the elevated levels found in the sampling program are an isolated situation of whether they are typical of other areas of Greater Vancouver. This monitoring could complement already established air and dustfall monitoring." I was told by a Metro staff person that a regional/provincial staff decision was later made to monitor air and dustfall only. Who knew?