LETTERS OF THE WEEK: Dec. 13 to 19

Lehigh plant will foul FVRD air quality

Re: FVRD concerns ring hollow, Editorial, Dec. 6, 2013.

While I am pleased the South Delta Leader has opened up discourse on Metro Vancouver’s additional incinerator proposal that will affect our health, will impact our environment and will be funded at a cost of $500 million to Metro Vancouver tax payers, I am also dismayed as the editorial is a bit of a head scratcher. Not only was it riddled with factually incorrect statements but to my surprise the community newspaper appeared purposeful in its character assassination of the Fraser Valley Regional District. Therefore, on behalf of the FVRD, I present the editor of the South Delta Leader and readers with the facts.

Firstly, it is hypocritical to chastise the FVRD for open burning. FVRD restrictions for electoral areas are no less restrictive than Metro Vancouver’s. Municipalities such as Chilliwack and Abbotsford are far more restrictive than Mayor Jackson’s municipality, which has open burning year round unless there is a ban in place by the Coastal Fire Centre. The City of Vancouver does not allow open burning but other municipalities in Metro Vancouver observe open burning even during the summer months when air quality is the worst, whereas most of FVRD municipalities restrict it at those times. As an example, in Abbotsford there is a burning ban from May until September in rural areas and all year in urban areas. Neither Metro Vancouver nor the FVRD have a ban on wood stoves. They are no more common in FVRD than in Metro Vancouver. This is definitely something both regions need to address, but it is not an excuse to burn garbage, which is not a 21st century solution.

Secondly, the claim that incinerating garbage instead of coal at the Lehigh Cement Plant would not create additional air emissions is simply erroneous. The FVRD acknowledges that the burning of coal pollutes our airshed, but substituting that with incinerating garbage is not the solution. If all emissions are counted, burning garbage is worse than burning coal. As for the use of ash in concrete, a Metro Vancouver report has already claimed it unfeasible, as it would have stability problems, create health and safety issues for plant staff, be highly corrosive and contain heavy metals.

Lastly, the assertion that FVRD is largely responsible for pollution in the airshed is again erroneous. The facts are that 59 per cent of smog-forming pollutants come from Metro Vancouver, 25 per cent from Whatcom County and 16 per cent is generated from within the FVRD. While the FVRD is indeed a provincial transportation corridor, roads within Metro Vancouver carry significantly more traffic. The FVRD’s population increased by 37,000 people this past decade, while Metro Vancouver’s increased by 330,000.

Sharon Gaetz

Chair, Fraser Valley Regional District

Editors note: According to Jasper van de Wetering, environmental manager at Lehigh Cement, Lehigh’s existing production facility would use refuse-derived fuel in place of coal and natural gas, and would create no additional air emissions and no post-combustion residue, or ash.


Fraser River estuary must be protected

Recently the City of Surrey passed a motion in opposition to coal imports to the Fraser Surrey Docks based on deficiencies in the Port Metro Vancouver environmental impact study primarily based on PMV’s health impact assessment.

Our own Council in their wisdom have demanded the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) do an independent environmental assessment panel review on the Roberts Bank T2 port expansion proposal. Many of us have been requesting this for months. PMV again completed their own impact study which shows considerable bias and inaccuracies particularly regarding shorebird habitat, transportation logistics and overall growth in trade projections.

The entire Fraser River delta estuary is under various environmental and industrial stress and we need to take immediate action by supporting our Council and by individually writing to CEAA about our concerns and the need for an independent economic assessment review.

Rod Asher


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