August 28, 2009

Garbage, garbage everywhere

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Metro Vancouver was planning on dumping more than 660,000 tons of trashannually in a Washington state landfill. But after the provincial government announced plans to outlaw international exporting of garbage, the region is looking for places closer to home to deposit its waste, according to Kelly Sinoski of the Vancouver Sun.

One solution proposed by Environment Minister Barry Penner is to expand the Cache Creek landfillnear Ashcroft instead of shutting it down next year as originally planned. The nearby Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council heavily opposes the suggestion, saying the landfill already pollutes local rivers and affects salmon in particular. An independent study suggests the dump doesn’t pose a hazard to humans or wildlife, but the council still would rather shut down the site.

Another possibility would be sending the trash to an incinerator at Gold River on Vancouver Island – a facility that hasn’t been approved or built yet.

“It makes sense to deal with our environmental problems here in B.C., rather than exporting our problems to somewhere else,” Penner said. But is depending on potential expansion of an already full landfill to store garbage for the next three to 20 years the solution?

“We don’t like Metro Vancouver wanting to protect their environment down there and keep it clean and pure and export all the bad stuff up here,” said Tribal Council Chief Bob Pasco.

Other areas of B.C. like Whisler and the Cowichan Valley already send their garbage across the border to Washington, which begs the question: Where will the garbage go during the Winter Olympics?

No one wants trash in their backyard. But until we figure out where to put it all, it will keep piling up.

– Emily Linroth

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