Rail Ties Be Wise is very concerned about Atlantic Power adding shredded rail ties to its fuel supply. We are concerned that the air quality in Williams Lake will greatly deteriorate if the bulk of Western Canada’s waste rail ties are burned in our community. Rail ties are treated with either creosote or pentachlorophenols and we do not want these chemicals released into the air within the city limits of a community like ours. The geographical situation of Williams Lake creates the right conditions for weather inversions, which trap pollutants with low clouds. There are many days when wind would not carry away the bulk of these airborne contaminants.
Our ad hoc community group was formed in September 2016 when several local stakeholders submitted formal legal appeals to the permit granted by the BC Ministry of Environment. Since then we have been working with lawyers, Erin Gray and Bill Andrews, of West Coast Environmental Law, to ensure that those appeals make a strong legal case. Our written hearing is upcoming.
We are also working to ensure that rail ties fuel does not qualify as “clean or renewable” fuel under the Clean Energy Act. BC Hydro is required to meet 93% of its load using clean energy, and wood waste does qualify. The BC Utilities Commission may have to decide if the treated rail ties are also considered clean fuel.
We don’t want to become the rail tie burning capital of Canada. We want people to want to visit and move to Williams Lake and for our community to be healthy and grow.