Recently, I was asked by a small contingent of concerned Hope citizens on my opinion of the proposed Bio-Solids recycling facility for our beloved community. By no means am I an expert on this subject, or will I pretend to be.
Honestly, when I first heard about this process for treating waste treatment sludge, my reaction was, finally they’re going to do something about it; especially, after reading all the horror stories about crews delivering untreated sludge into the Nicola Valley and spreading it randomly.
Then, after some sober thinking, I thought it would probably be better to err on the side of caution.
So, having the opportunity of being able to confer with experienced and pragmatic officials from other municipal jurisdictions, as well as scientific representatives from the David Suzuki Foundation, my opinion only became broadened.
Their main concern was does this project protect the biosphere? Does it create air pollution? Oxygen is after all our most important element, and we cannot live three minutes without it. As well, does it block the sun’s energy? Plants absorb the sun’s energy and we eat the plants, and they give us energy. As well the plants create oxygen.
The next concern does it pollute the water? We can’t live more than three days without water. Water also feeds the plants.
Will it pollute the soil? If the soil becomes contaminated, the plants will make us sick, and the ground water becomes contaminated.
Though the problem of dealing with bio-solids or residual waste treatment sludge, is not 100 percent effective, the problem is not going away. No matter how you look at it, it’s got to be dealt with one way or another. I suppose the million dollar question is where.
Though the left over residual sludge is far safer than anything untreated, it has almost a certain chance that it contains a certain amount of heavy metals, and dioxins, as well as trace pharmaceutical byproduct.
How dangerous are these substances? From the conversations that I participated in, the concentrations will vary, from batch to batch.
So I asked, what would they recommend. To my surprise, their answer was quite pragmatic, as they too realized the economic importance, as well as the importance of dealing with these substances. In fact, the amount of bio-solids is only going to increase as our population grows.
I was quite amazed to find out that they were all very aware of this company and their technique. In fact, they were quite on top of exactly what they were doing and where. They suggested to me that our town officials should consider that this particular company has a portable operation in Vegreville, Alberta, and that this operation is using the same process of pyrolysis, only treating another source of compost.
The real litmus test would be to move this operation, or a portable one like it to Hope and to run the operation with the portable mill, and test the residuals, and every other aspect of the operation. This would allow the town officials a way to view and test the environmental impacts, and to see if this really is the type of operation that the town wants.
After all, a trial run would tell the story once and for all.
Opinions could then be developed on pure fact and observation, rather than rumour and speculation.
This way, either side would have lost nothing, but at same time, gained either a healthy viable business, or a profound knowledge for the community, and/or likewise endeavours.