Letters: Burning of rail ties not worth health risk

A headline of a story published on the CBC website on Oct. 23 stated that: “Williams Lake Supports Move to Burn More Railway Ties in City.”


A headline of a story published on the CBC website on Oct. 23 stated that: “Williams Lake Supports Move to Burn More Railway Ties in City.”

I find this very disturbing in light of the following facts:

1.) The burning of ties was not allowed in Kamloops because of worries about the health effects of burning creosote, distilled from the wood preservative coal tar, in a facility so close to residences in the city of nearly 90,000.

2.) The location of the Atlantic Power plant in Williams Lake is literally within hundreds of metres of residential areas.

3.) Nikhil Patel, a research scientist and engineer at the University of North Dakota states that, “Railway ties have historically been difficult to dispose of because they contain significant amounts of toxic coal tar.”

4.) Although the burners in the Atlantic Power plant have air pollution control equipment designed to remove different pollutants generated during the combustion process, none of this equipment is capable of removing 100 per cent of the toxins emitted from burning railway ties. It is important that the public be aware of this since many of these emissions are carcinogenic and produce adverse health effects even at very low levels.

5.) In Lansing, Michigan, a news conference was held on Nov. 4 by 40 health professionals from across Michigan asking lawmakers to throw out a renewable energy plan because it included burning hazardous waste such as railway ties.

Seeking an objective scientific opinion is an obvious next step here.

The only scientific opinion I’ve seen thus far is from Atlantic Power. Therefore one can expect bias to creep in.

I don’t believe that we should risk the health of our children in order to make it convenient for railroad companies to dispose of spent toxic railway ties while, at the same time, helping Atlantic Power in Williams Lake to make a profit from this.

Patrick Radolla

Williams Lake

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