Time to send a big shout-out to Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer and Richmond Councillor Harold Steves. (<firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>. These two members of the Metro Board have begun to ask tough questions of Metro staff.
At last Friday's workshop, Steves asked why we were evaluating our disposal options (landfill/MBT vs incinerators) by how much energy they produce or how much money we can make from them.
"The objective should be GHG reduction," Steves said. He made the point out that plastic in an incinerator is a fossil fuel. (Responding to Steves question, CAO Johnny Carline repeated the fallacious $500/tonne cost of MBT.)
Then Andrea Reimer picked up on public polling results intended to reassure the Board that incinerators are politically popular (see slide 40 in the staff presentation which suggests that 63% of people following the issue are "leaning towards waste-to-energy").
Reimer asked: Did you use the term 'waste-to-energy' when you asked the question?
She went on: What would have been the public response if you had asked about 'mass-burn incineration.' (Metro's Ken Carrusca tried to insist that 'landfill' is also a euphemism -- and defended mass-burn incineration as a "proven" technology.)
Reimer also pressed staff on the validity of Metro's repeated claim (slide 36, 37, 38, 39...) that there is scientific consensus that there are no health risks from mass-burn incineration.
Scientists, she reminded the engineers, "won't prove a negative" -- the most they will say is that there is no evidence of a positive.
It turns out that Metro staff's claim rests in large part on a decision by the ironically-named British Health Protection Agency not to look for negative effects. The HPA position is that what we don't measure won't hurt us. (However, even the HPA report flagged the uncertainties around nanoparticles - see page 5 of their report).
Be sure to send your best wishes to Steves and Reimer: