Garbage incinerator proposed for Nanaimo

Duke Point in Nanaimo is a site under consideration for a waste-to-energy garbage incinerator. It would burn 370,000 tonnes of Metro Vancouver’s garbage per year.  Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incinerators combust garbage to generate electricity and produce steam for heating buildings.

When the garbage is burned, ash is supposed to be collected from the incinerator’s air filter and treated then sent to the landfill. The Burnaby incinerator, operated by Covanta Energy based in New Jersey, was not adequately equipped to screen for cadmium. Cadmium is a toxic metal and a known carcinogen. It is found in batteries and some hard plastics – which usually wind up in the garbage.

25,000 tonnes of ash from Metro Vancouver’s Burnaby incinerator was sent to the Cache Creek landfill in two years, from 2010 to 2012. In July 2012 samples at the Cache Creek site were tested and found to contain cadmium levels of 2.92mg/L – almost six times the allowable limit. After, due to the problems of the fly ash from the Burnaby incinerator, the hazardous waste was trucked to Alberta.

According to the Environmental Integrity Project these incinerators pollute more per hour than coal-fired power plants; emitting higher rates of lead, mercury, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

The U.S. National Research Council has noted that some of these emissions are not localized to the geographic area in which they are generated, but rather that some persistent air pollutants, such as dioxins, furans, and mercury, can be dispersed over large regions – well beyond the local areas and even the countries from which the sources first emanate.

From a waste management perspective, recycling is better for the environment and amount of energy used than incineration. The time to act is now, please sign the petition. In the past, the City of Nanaimo has proposed similar projects for Duke Point.

Here is an article about a village in Wales which successfully halted a garbage incinerator project: