All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

Abbotsford’s view of incinerators…

with one comment


The incinerator debate has resurfaced, recently, because the FVRD is considering taking action against Metro Vancouver over emissions from the Burnaby incinerator (at least, according to Patricia Ross).  I have to smile at that – quite a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  Not only are Abbotsford and Chilliwack sprawly towns dependent on cars (with all the emissions that that implies) but the FVRD has refused to regulate off-road machinery, which represents some of the worse diesel pollution around; and the district has also granted variance to large greenhouse growers to use wood waste rather than natural gas, despite the increased emissions that that entails.


This is not to say that there are no emissions from the Burnaby incinerator.  The 2005 emissions inventory (published in 2010 – that’s the most recent I found) shows that the incinerator pumped out 9 metric tonnes of PM10.  If that sounds like a lot, consider that off-road equipment  emitted 157 tonnes of PM10 in the FVRD alone.  (Landfills, by themselves, produced 59 metric tonnes throughout the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley area.) 

PM10 are the particles in smoke and dust that are small enough to be breathed in.  They are not the only pollutants emitted, and they are not necessarily toxic.  But they are a good indicator of toxicity since many of the more dangerous substances (heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, to name a few) are carried into the lungs by these small particles.

Emissions from a modern incinerator do contain materials that are known toxins and carcinogens.  The request of counsellor Ross that emission levels should be transparent and easily accessible in real-time is excellent; this would demonstrate that the pollutants are indeed found – though in trace amounts.  In contrast, the very same toxic substances are spewed in much greater quantities by old diesel engines.  So it seems a bit disingenuous to single out the Burnaby incinerator.

I wrote a short letter about this, which I sent to the Vancouver Sun, in response to the articles.  Hope they publish it!  Here it is:

Marc Jaccard and Gordon Price are right in considering hypocritical the stance of the Fraser Valley Regional District regarding incinerators (Burnaby incinerator emissions expected to fall: engineer, Jan 7th), but there is another reason, aside from sprawl: particulate matter from diesel engines.  These are particularly unhealthy, and there is already significant pollution from trucks shipping garbage to Cache Creek or some future landfill that would be needed if incinerators were to be banned.  But more importantly, Metro Vancouver has regulated off-road diesel machinery since 2011, but the FVRD has failed to follow suit.  All the older polluting equipment that can no longer operate in Metro are now in – you guessed it – Abbotsford and Chilliwack, spewing a far more toxic brew than the incinerator ever will.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…


(Note: for whatever reason, the links don’t show up on this document unless you happen to run your cursor over them…I need an infusion of geekiness to fix this!)


Written by enviropaul

January 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] little while ago I posted an entry explaining why I thought Ross was out of line (here).  I mentioned that it would be great to have access to real-time data from the incinerator, since […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: