LETTERS: Refuse to accept rail ties

Like yourself, I am a long-time resident of Williams Lake, and so would write to you from this perspective.


Like yourself,  I am a long-time resident of Williams Lake, and so would write to you from this perspective.

In the  early years Williams Lake was known as a “dusty cow town” — which it was, with one mill, Lignum’s. The village was a great place to live, and people accepted the dust.

Then in the 60s four more mills started up, and the population increased dramatically. It became a very busy town, with a lot of vehicle traffic, including the logging trucks, chip trucks, workers, etc. Due to the geographical setting, air quality became a serious issue, and still is.  Which leads to the issue of burning creosoted ties in the local Cogeneration plant.

The cogen plant was never intended to burn rail ties and there is more than enough roadside logging debris available that could be hauled to the site in containers to supply them with clean wood fuel. The creosoted ties have toxic chemicals: HCl, So2, No2, and in the ash there would be the most carcinogenic elements, dioxins and furans. The ash pit “containment” facility is an open area that is not sufficient to contain the ashes. There are many toxic substances associated with these ties. This has been researched and is well-documented.  I cannot believe the assurances by Atlantic Power Corp. that emissions from their stacks will be well below permissible levels.  When you take into account the air inversions that occur  due to weather conditions throughout the year, it would seem to be a very risky project.  I am very concerned about the health risk to children, to those who already have breathing problems and the elderly.

Another point to consider is that there are many locations in the Central Interior that have few residents and good ventilation, near the rail lines.  CN Rail could well afford to build their own plant, or, alternatively, they could transport their old rails to Swan Hills, Alberta for proper disposal in their designated facility.

This issue is very much to do with money … the money that Atlantic Power will receive as a tipping fee, along with the free fuel.  CN Rail will save money by not shipping their rails to Alberta or building their own facility. Remember that BC Rail was obtained by CN for a fraction of its worth.

They have made a lot of money in the last few years, some of it transporting  hazardous goods, so it would be more than appropriate that they dispose of their own hazardous ties.

In conclusion I would appeal to you to not allow the burning of creosoted ties in this valley. Even five per cent ties would be a compromise.

I understand full well that we are an industry-based community, depending on resource extraction, but that does not mean that we cannot have a good quality of life here, and our air quality is a serious issue, one that City Council has the power to control and improve on.

We can refuse to accept rail ties here, as Kamloops, Salmon Arm, and Kelowna did.

I would urge you and council to not support the application by Atlantic Power and CN Rail, to burn their creosoted rail ties in our community.

Michael Atwood

Williams Lake