Burnaby incinerator not hurting air quality: report

Fraser Valley Regional District chair unconvinced by findings

While Metro Vancouver has given the Burnaby garbage incinerator a clean bill of health when it comes to air quality, the chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District is not convinced.
Metro Vancouver released an annual environmental monitoring report and stated its waste-to-energy facility in South Burnaby had “no detectable impacts on local or regional air quality.”
“Throughout its 25 years in service, our waste-to-energy facility has performed considerably better than the required regulatory emission standards,” said Greg Moore, Metro Vancouver’s chair, in a media release.
The annual report found the incinerator’s emissions count for a “very small” percentage of regional emissions – 0.003 per cent of the total fine particles emitted in the region.
According to Metro Vancouver, wood burning fire places are the top source for fine particles in the air, representing 25 per cent, followed by industry, bulldozers and off-road vehicles, marine vessels, and then cars and trucks.
Regardless, Sharon Gaetz, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, would be happy to see the current incinerator go and plans for a second one quashed. The Fraser Valley, according to Gaetz, bears the brunt of Metro Vancouver’s pollution, which stops at the mountains.
“Our job is to protect the people of the Fraser Valley, and that’s what we are trying to do,” she said. “We’re clearly impacted by the pollution from Metro Vancouver. It sits against our mountains and doesn’t disperse.”
As for the incinerator, Gaetz raised concerns about nitrogen dioxide, a common, toxic air pollutant found in the incinerator’s emissions.  
“The incinerator is responsible for one per cent of nitrogen dioxides,” Gaetz said.
The Fraser Valley Regional District has been lobbying hard against incineration – all 22 of the district’s board members are unanimously opposed to incinerators, Gaetz said.
The Burnaby incinerator has been burning garbage since 1988. For the first seven years, the nitrogen dioxide levels were above the regulatory standards, but they dropped in 1996 and have remained at lower levels ever since.
Emissions for sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, dioxins and furans have all been below regulatory levels since the incinerator was built, according to Metro Vancouver’s report.
 

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