Incinerator will dirty city’s clean air

Making electricity and money from stuff Vancouver throws away sounds like a sweet deal, but burning garbage spews toxic ash.

BY TREVOR GREENE

Metro Vancouver’s bulging landfill at Cache Creek will be full by 2018.

Every day, 42 truckloads of garbage make the 345-kilometre trek to the landfill. The waste-to-energy garbage incinerator in Burnaby will not be able to keep up with the mounds of waste the city generates every day. In 2008, Vancouver produced one and a half tons of waste per capita, well above the national average.

Another incinerator is badly needed so Metro Vancouver was directed to investigate in- and out-of-region sites for a new incineration facility. In the summer, Duke Point proponents talked about building a $500-million incinerator that would process 370,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Nanaimo city council hasn’t yet formed a consensus on the contentious issue. But it called for a report on what options are available to prevent an incinerator from being built within the city limits and what the implications might be.

Last year ash from the Burnaby incinerator was found to be leaching cadmium, an extremely toxic metal, into the Cache Creek landfill. According to a Metro Vancouver factsheet, the Burnaby plant turns approximately 280,000 tonnes of garbage a year into steam which is sold to B.C. Hydro to generate electricity; enough to power 15,000 homes and earn $10 million a year.

Making electricity and money from stuff Vancouver throws away sounds like a sweet deal, but burning garbage spews toxic ash into the air we breathe. This ash is likely to turn off tourists coming to breathe what the World Health Organization says is among the cleanest air on earth.