In a tweet today, Metro Vancouver took direct aim at one of the most important political sources of support for two of the Fraser Valley’s most durable politicians – Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz to the notion that concerns over emissions from its Waste To Energy plan would adversely impact the airshed of the Fraser Valley.
The tweet pointed out that Metro’s current plant is responsible for only one percent of the total smog in the Lower Fraser Valley. This argument dovetails with other longstanding research results which show that the largest source of Lower Mainland smog is emissions from vehicles – such as the diesel trucks which currently drive Vancouver’s garbage through the Valley and up to a landfill in the Interior – and Environment Canada’s research which shows the inversion haze the Valley often experiences in summer months is caused by emissions from livestock which fill the air and mix with the salt air from the Pacific to block out the view of the mountains.
This isn’t the first time the Fraser Valley environmentalist politicians have been called on their bad science (see below) but merely the latest in an ongoing battle which promises to heat up as the municipal election, scheduled for November, provides ample opportunity for local politicians to show themselves as battling for the rights of local people, however vacuous their arguments nor the lack of credible scientific research behind them.
Another former chair of the FVRD who has found the fictitious threat to the Fraser Valley airshed from waste to energy incineration useful has been former Mayor of Chilliwack and Liberal cabinet minster John Les who, while fighting for Fraser Valley air has been collecting a pay check from the landfill operator in the INterior which prefers we drive the garbage through the Valley in diesel trucks – Les Turns Incinerator Opposition Into Cash.
Both Ross and Gaetz have found the ‘environmentalist’ moniker useful in the past though both are having a hard time explaining Gaetz’s support for a toxic waste facility along the Fraser River in Chilliwack, just upriver from Abbotsford.
On a page devoted to debunking claims made by Abbotsford Councillor and Vice Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) Patricia Ross and Sharon Gaetz, Chilliwack Mayor and Chair of the FVRD, about the dangers to the air in the Fraser Valley from Metro’s plans to stop shipping its garbage through Abbotsford and Chilliwack in diesel trucks and covert it to energy for use in homes and businesses Metro Vancouver states:
Today, emissions from modern waste-to-energy facilities are among the cleanest and most highly monitored of any industry. The facilities are designed specifically to destroy trace pollutants in the garbage like dioxins, and use advanced air pollution control equipment to capture pollutants like nitrogen oxides, fine particles and metals.
Monitoring systems measure the emissions of many pollutants continuously, allowing facility operators to make adjustments that minimize emissions levels. Periodic manual emissions testing for a wide range of pollutants is used to confirm facility performance and regulatory compliance.
Air Quality in the Lower Fraser Valley
Current waste management practices contribute a very small proportion of the air contaminants in the Lower Fraser Valley (less than 1% of total smog forming pollutants), and Metro Vancouver’s 2010 solid waste management plan advocates further decreases in these levels by recovering energy from waste in combination with district energy.
In the development of the plan, detailed air quality modeling was carried out to determine the effects of additional waste to energy or landfilling to air quality in the Lower Fraser Valley. The modeling showed that there was no discernible difference in air quality from any of the options, including waste-to-energy. The development of any new waste-to-energy capacity will include detailed environmental impact assessment to provide additional assurance that a new facility will not degrade air quality.
Research, Sources and Background:
We did what we could to provide as many useful links for those who want to look into the matter further. Some general research links are provided below as well as the research provided by both sides in this very political debate.
Critique of Waste To Energy Proposals:Incinerators – Waste-to-Energy Proposals in the Watershed Sentinel by Joyce Nelson.
Fraser Valley Regional District Research:
– Consolidated FV Management Plan 1998 PDF
– Best Management Practices and emission inventory of agricultural sources in the Lower Fraser Valley
– State of the air Reports
– Dr Ian Mckendry Report-Air Quality in the Fraser Valley
– Particulate Emissions and Health – Prf C. Vyvyan Howarrd