Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

Op-Ed

Chemical Capital

Earthquakes, floods make riverside recycling too risky

Submitted by Phill Bruce, Chilliwack City Hall Election Candidate

 

s an educator, I consider myself someone who rationalizes an idea or concept with evidence-based information. I study the laws of probability within my job.

 

When it comes to possibility of any disaster, what are the percentages of a specific disaster occurring and which one is most likely to happen in our lifetime?

The percentages show a flood to be the number one environmental concern that the Fraser valley is likely to encounter, with numbers as low as 1-50 chance. Remember, our dike systems originated in the 1800s.

Aevitas Inc. is a company that specializes in the handling of waste materials including such things as mercury and PCBs. Aevitas claims to have no spills and this appears to be correct at this time. Due to the political heat that the environmental movement has put on the City of Chilliwack, Aevitas is in the process of designing containment walls to protect against possible flooding.

The question we need to ask is, can these containment walls hold back the Fraser river, not only in mild cases of flooding but in worst case scenario extremes as we have seen in past?

Most of will agree that moving this company to higher ground is the best scenario. Given the high cost of relocation this doesn't appear likely.

Questions we have to ask ourselves is: what would be the environmental impact of a disaster involving this facility; who would it affect and for how long?

First and foremost the fishing industry, including commercial, sport and native fisheries would be decimated. Ground water would be contaminated beyond repair which would have far-reaching affects, not only for household use, but also for the farming community.

Forgive me if Iíve missed anyone. The price of this disaster is not quantifiable. There are people that disagree with me and would state that Iím exaggerating for effect. To those naysayers I say that the flood scenario is a legitimate concern based on real evidence that are own Province has provided.

Also, the business model that Aevitas is using has huge potential for growth in this province, increasing the possibility to stockpile large amounts of waste such as PCBs, mercury, as well as medical waste. The ability to move this waste within a limited amounted of time during a flood alert is flawed given the nature of a worst-case flood scenario.

I personally, want to have a thriving vibrant community in which everyone has a good paying job, but not at the expense of a high-risk disaster.

It might take a lifetime for this disaster to happen, but it would take more than a lifetime for effects of the disaster to be repaired.
 

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