The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) has seized on inconsistent test results of toxic fly ash from Metro Vancouver's Burnaby incinerator as further evidence that burning garbage is a bad idea.
Ash samples taken in the summer were found to have leachable cadmium above acceptable levels, results that were later questioned by follow-up tests. The uncertainty led Metro's manager of solid waste Paul Henderson to question the test they use.
Henderson was quoted in the media as saying, "it showed us absolutely there's a possibility of failure" in reference to standard protocol testing.
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, in her role as FVRD chair, reiterated concerns.
"By questioning their own tests, Mr. Henderson is throwing all previous testing and the existing protocols into doubt," she said.
Both Gaetz and Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta have questioned Metro's logic of retesting only the failed samples at a different lab.
"The public should question whether this is simply a case of testing repeatedly in order to get the desired result rather than a determination of the true toxicity of the waste," Gaetz said.
Metro's fly ash was being sent to the Cache Creek landfill until September, when Covanta, the incinerator's operator, told the landfill operator about the failed test results.
Since then, the material has been sent to a hazardous waste facility in Alberta.
Gaetz has also been critical of the provincial government's response. The FVRD said it was "concerning" that the Ministry of the Environment hadn't yet ordered the removal of the incinerator ash that failed the test results.
"In matters of public health, one would expect the Ministry of Environment to err on the side of caution and remove the suspect ash from the landfill," Gaetz said.
Gaetz and the FVRD have butted heads with Metro Vancouver for years over the latter's plans to build a new incinerator in that region.
Abbotsford council has also unanimously opposed the facility being built in the Lower Mainland as well.
The FVRD says that problems like this will only continue "as long as Metro Vancouver continues down its path to old fashioned waste management methods like incineration."