Even the possibility that a proposal to burn Vancouver garbage in Howe Sound might send toxic winds blowing over Metro’s pristine North Shore watershed should be ringing alarm bells from Point Grey to the Fraser Valley.
To make matters worse, winter Squamish outflow winds carrying emissions from the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Woodfibre will only complicate matters.
Considering B.C.’s famously inadequate air monitoring system, which relies on industry self-policing, and recent B.C. government reluctance to require rigorous environmental assessments for other LNG projects, Lower Mainland residents who take pride in their drinking water should be paying attention.
Local sailors know how the tall mountains and rugged landscape in Howe Sound’s scenic fjordland can act like a giant funnel with sometimes fierce winds that are quirky and unpredictable. Loading this confined airshed with its highly variable dispersal and dilution factors with additional incineration of hundreds of thousands of tons of Metro plastic, paper, unsorted garbage and construction waste may be putting Metro Vancouver water quality at risk without detailed scientific studies.
Even with the best monitoring and the rosiest predictions, the garbage incineration proposal will be worrisome to people with health issues; especially at a time when public confidence in government impartiality is shaky at best.
When it comes to protecting water supplies, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) should also be on notice. Chapman Creek watershed lies a very few kilometres downwind and uphill from a possible Port Mellon incinerator where melting snows and creeks will carry fallout to Sechelt’s kitchen taps.
This may not be the kind of recycling the SCRD had in mind when it signed the Multi-Material BC contract, which includes possible incineration of Coast recyclables. But nature does have a way of evening up the score.
Joe Harrison, Garden Bay
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