A delegation of concerned citizens addressed council at its regular meeting Tuesday, April 24 about Atlantic Power Corporation’s permit amendment application to burn up to 50 per cent rail ties at its power plant in Williams Lake.
“This could be the tipping point that changes the face of Williams Lake,” spokesperson Sage Birchwater said. “We feel importing up to 1.6 million railway ties or 112,500 of toxic material annually into the Williams Lake valley and processing and burning it here for 10 years is a recipe for disasters.”
Birchwater encouraged city council to ask the provincial government to hold an open, transparent and public review of the proposal. The group also wants the city and CRD to hold a public referendum on the question. Spokesperson Jim Hilton said the power plant is an asset to Williams Lake but was built to process forestry biomass not incinerate trash.
“Atlantic Power would like to import millions of rail ties for burning in our town to help solve the hazardous rail tie problem across Canada,” Hilton said. “Research shows ties are relatively harmless in whole form, but become extremely hazardous when shredded, chipped or ground up, which is what they are proposing to do here.”
Mayor Walt Cobb said council sent a resolution to the Ministry of Environment supporting APC’s application, subject to it meeting environmental standards. The group’s petition against burning rail ties at the plant has gathered more than 800 signatures.