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FVRD balks at proposed waste-to-energy facility in Delta
Metro Vancouver has short-listed Lehigh Cement on Tilbury Island in Delta as one possible location for a waste-to-energy facility, but the Fraser Valley Regional District is opposed to any plan that includes incineration. The FVRD says a new incinerator will generate 171,000 tonnes of carcinogenic ash each year, or equivalent to 17,100 dump truck loads.
Patricia Ross, an Abbotsford councillor and Vice-Chair of the FVRD, calls incinerating garbage a “landfill in the sky.”
Ross said incinerating garbage, even to recycle for use as fuel as Lehigh Cement proposes, generates the most toxic particulate matter that winds up in the atmosphere. The thousands of different chemicals in household waste are mixed together to make a “supertoxin” that people will breathe in the Fraser Valley.
Ross said it’s impossible to remove all of that particulate matter from escaping into the atmosphere during the incineration process.
“Lehigh currently emits from their cement plant over 100 tonnes of particulate matter each year, even with the so-called best available air pollution control technology.”
Ross said incinerating municipal solid waste generates 40 per cent more carbon emissions than burning coal. That would add to the carbon footprint of the one million tonnes of carbon already emitted by Lehigh, she said.
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said that although it sounds like a “perfect match” for Lehigh Cement and Metro Vancouver’s waste problem, it can’t go forward without approval from the FVRD.
“My problem is I have always said a waste management facility of that sort should have the support of the Fraser Valley Regional District,” she said. “And if I were Lehigh [Cement] I would be going out there and trying to convince them that Lehigh is perfectly capable of handling the emissions in a very sophisticated way.”
Jasper van de Wetering, environmental manager at Lehigh Cement, has stated that Lehigh’s existing production facility can use refuse-derived fuel and doing so would create no additional air emissions and no post-combustion residue, or ash.
Mayor Lois Jackson brushed aside concerns from the FVRD as well, saying any emissions generated from a WTE facility would be an issue for the entire Lower Mainland and not just the Fraser Valley.
“That’s old, old news. We’ve been fighting with [FVRD] for six years. They continue to say that all the pollution comes from Vancouver into the valley and that’s probably true in terms of topography, the location of the mountains and the air drifts from the ocean. But I think what our job is to ensure that any greenhouse gasses or any emissions are absolutely minimal or negligible.”
Jackson said it’s not simply a case of all the pollution in the Fraser Valley belonging to Metro Vancouver, given the FVRD’s rapid growth over the past two decades.
“They still have open burning and fireplaces which contribute to poor air quality,” she said.
Jackson also pointed to countries in Europe which have been using WTE technology for decades already.