U.S. waste export plan advances

Metro Vancouver directors will vote at the end of the month on a contentious plan to start exporting the region’s waste to the U.S.

But now there are hopes Americans might do something better with it than simply bury it in a landfill.

The export plan was endorsed March 12 by Metro’s waste management committee, which amended the motion coming to the board so it doesn’t require waste to be dumped at Rabanco’s Roosevelt Regional Landfill in southern Washington State.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini said the aim is to open the door to other U.S. proponents or technologies other than landfilling, such as waste-to-energy plants.

“An entrepreneur could take that as a resource that they could use it to generate electricity, heat, whatever,” he said.

“So in essence we are not exporting our refuse, we are exporting a product.”

The change is being supported by Metro board chair and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who proposed the motion.

“I want to get this thing on the table and get it decided,” she said.

Metro’s Cache Creek Regional Landfill must close by 2010 and the Rabanco landfill has emerged as the most promising disposal option to replace it.

The region has abandoned efforts to build a new Interior landfill and the possibility of intensifying use of the Vancouver Landfill in Burns Bog faces local opposition.

Metro hopes to build new waste-to-energy plants in this region, but they can’t be ready before at least 2015.

“Nobody wants to export waste to the U.S., but our backs are against the wall,” Jackson said.

If passed by the board, Metro would need the environment minister Barry Penner’s approval to make a short-term amendment to its Solid Waste Management Plan allowing export.

“Theoretically we could ship as soon as he approves it,” Jackson said.

Coquitlam Coun. Fin Donnelly opposes the plan, saying it puts Metro Vancouver at odds with its own sustainability principles and those of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“We’re on the eve of inviting the world to this region,” he said, predicting the Lower Mainland’s trash troubles will become a black eye on the global stage.

He wants to keep looking for a made-in-B.C. solution, even renewed efforts to develop a new Interior landfill.

Another firm –

Waste would be shredded and baled into refuse-derived fuel, which would be barged to the firm’s power plant at the site of a former pulp mill in Gold River.

Green Island officials say they could start taking waste before Cache Creek closes at a cost significantly below what Metro faces if it builds its own new incinerators here.

Meanwhile the possibility of building new incinerators in the Lower Mainland has alarmed Fraser Valley Regional District chair Terry Raymond, who warned emissions could aggravate air pollution in the valley.

“We must be extremely cautious and concerned over any additional point sources of air pollution,” added Abbotsford Mayor George Ferguson. “Even the best of this technology is relatively new and we question whether this is the airshed to test it.”

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