Unfortunately, no one really knows the long-term health risks associated with burning treated ties.
There are studies online that show an increase in cancer rates among people living in the area of a biomass burning facility, fuelled, to some extent, with treated railway ties.
Was the connection definitive between the cancer rate and the emissions from the facility? No…it can’t be proved with certainty…but is it worth taking the chance?
Science has confirmed a connection between cancer and exposure to dioxins and furans as well as the respiratory health issues from NOx.
If Atlantic Power is successful on their permit amendment, they will be significantly increasing the amount of these toxic substances being emitted into the air.
The argument is that the levels will be below the thresholds set by the Ministry of Environment, therefore, it is OK … but what if the levels are set too low?
What if the long term affects are still not fully understood? What if you live close to the facility where the levels may be exceeded?
It is relatively recent that the connection between cancer and dioxins has been recognized. What is acceptable today may not be acceptable tomorrow.
The proximity of the facility to the town, combined with the narrow valley, frequent poor venting conditions, and existing air quality issues … it is just too risky.
I was surprised to see both local governments support the application. I really feel that they do not have the support of the people on this issue.
The people I have talked to either don’t know anything about it, don’t understand it, and, to a large extent, do not support it.
A few years ago, an application to burn treated ties in Kamloops was not supported by local government, and the permit wasn’t issued.
I think the energy plant in Williams Lake is a world class bioenergy facility, but this is a step in the wrong direction.
There is a fuel supply, in the form of logging debris, that, for the most part, is not being utilized.
We can’t expect Atlantic Power to subsidize the added cost; however, BC Hydro has, and will, purchase higher cost power.
Both the Federal and Provincial Governments are committed to green, clean energy. Fuel from this area is currently being converted into pellets, transported to Europe, and converted into electricity there.
One would think that making electricity from logging debris, from this area, is doable.