by Robert Freeman and Kevin Mills, Black Press
All proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities, no matter what size, will be reviewed under new regulations, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake announced Monday in Chilliwack.
Lake told reporters that he was making the announcement to clear up “misinformation” that Metro Vancouver is going ahead with plans to build a WTE facility without consulting the Fraser Valley Regional District.
Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan, which includes the possibility of a WTE facility, has been approved by the ministry, but Lake said no “concrete” WTE method is on the table.
Under the existing regulation, a WTE facility must reach a certain size before a full environmental assessment is triggered.
“What we’re announcing today is that all WTE (facilities) in the Lower Mainland or Fraser Valley, no matter what size they are, will have to go through a full and mandatory environmental assessment because of the strengthening of the regulations,” Lake said.
“We know that air quality is a critical issue for residents of the Fraser Valley,” he added, “so we wanted to assure people that whatever proposal comes forward (at Metro Vancouver) that it will undergo the most rigourous environmental review possible in B.C.,” he said.
Public hearings are required under the environmental review process.
“All residents of the Fraser Valley will have the ability for full input into the environmental assessment process,” Lake said. “All concerns will be taken into account in that way.”
Consultation between the two boards has yet to take place, but both districts’ staff have had discussions on how to start and what the process will be.
A location for any proposed WTE facility has not been decided.
The FVRD is concerned that emissions would travel into the Valley if a facility is built in the Lower Mainland. There have been some suggestions to build the plant at Gold River, on Vancouver Island, which should alleviate concerns regarding air quality.