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Residents feel abandoned in biosolids battle

Health problems persist as dust continues to fall, they say
April 28, 2016 10:31 A.M.
Mixing biosolids to produce a soil amender in Barnhartvale.

Residents in Dallas and Barnhartvale were not at all impressed to hear a medical health officer tell City council Interior Health is prepared to shut down operations that threaten public health.

They’ve complained of health effects, wholly attributing them to a biosolids mixing operation for a year now, without being able to convince Interior Health to act on the problem. Residents were expecting to meet Thursday with a few City councillors on the unresolved issue.

All attention appears focused on potential mine impacts, while an existing and persistent impact of industrial activity is ignored, the residents say.

Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, IHA medical health officer, appeared before City council Tuesday to provide an update on a health impact review of the Ajax Mine environmental impact assessment. He said it’s not uncommon for IHA health protection division to order shutdowns.

Two years ago, Interior Health stopped a plan by Regional District of Central Okanagan to spread biosolids at the old Brenda Mine site, citing risks to Peachland’s water supply in the event of an extreme-weather event.

Dallas residents want the same consideration. For almost a year, they have complained of health effects as a result of dust blowing from a biosolids operation run by Arrow Transportation on the Blackwell Dairy Farm. After they complained to City council, the City pursued the issue but found it has no authority to prevent an agricultural practice protected by the provincial Farm Act.

On the river bench lands above, residents in rural Barnhartvale have had the same problem as a result of biosolids stored nearby for the same operation. They had set up a meeting with dairy owner Ted Blackwell, but cancelled since the piles were recently moved.

“I know the people in Dallas are really concerned,” said Alison Miller, part of the Barnhartvale group. “They’ve been having problems with the wind.”

“Nobody hears us,” said one Dallas resident. They’re so fed up, many have given up attempting to lobby government. 

A storm last Thursday, April 21, was “horrific,” he said. Localized storms were sweeping through the valley that day. A high wind sent black dust airborne over Dallas. 

What concerns them most is Class B biosolids.

Residents point to research by UBC scientist Karen Bartlett, warning of microbe spores in compost (yard waste, food scraps and biosolids) that are allergenic and provoke inflammatory response, symptoms consistent with theirs. Bartlett's 2009 study focused on workplace safety. Among her findings was that the job associated with highest exposures to the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus was blending biosolid (sewage sludge) with wood chips inside a barn. The Barnhartvale operation mixes the same materials with native soil and sand as a soil amender.

“The problem we’re having with Interior Health is that they won’t investigate until they hear from enough doctors,” Miller said. “The doctors will not say definitively that it’s caused by biosolids; they can’t.”

With 14 complaints from Barnhartvale and at least that many from Dallas, they were still pinning their hopes on an IHA response.

“We sort of figured, between the two communities, they would take a look at it, but at this point they’re not. We feel that we’re being ignored altogether. It’s frustrating. We’re surprised by IHA’s lack of concern. We’re surprised by the City not having any control over what’s going on in the city.”

The whole controversy flared up in the Nicola Valley last year when a biosolids mixing operation was stopped in its tracks by a roadblock and moratorium on biosolids application declared by local First Nations. 

Despite all the problems and complaints, which have dragged on for more than two years, a promised scientific review of biosolids and the regulations governing their use has only added to frustration among Interior residents.

Two weeks ago, the five chiefs of the Nicola Valley, who were instrumental in forcing the provincial government to act last year on the issue of land application biosolids, walked away in protest from the panel review of biosolids promised last June. The chiefs said their participation in the review has been reduced to observer status only.

B.C.’s Ministry of Environment is promising that the scientific review will be complete by July. The work of the independent panel will help inform a broader provincial review of the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation, which will look at potential new standards for organic contaminants as well as requirements for the production, management and use of biosolids.

Randy Murray, TNRD director for Nicola Valley North, feels the provincial government is merely window dessing ahead of next year's election.

"If they truly wanted to resolve it, they'd have a full review with the Ministry of Agriculture," Murray said. "I think that's where it has to start. I think there's more coming at the government than they realized."

After withdrawing from the review, First Nations in B.C. are uniting around the issue, he noted.

"At the end of the day, long-term dumping for the low-cost, highest risk option is wrong," Murray added.

 

Johnnie says:
May 8, 2016 06:47pm

Why has the he city looked into this???? Seems to be a contradiction after all the time and energy they have spent on the Ajax mine.

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Kim says:
April 29, 2016 08:41am

Unfortunately the residents are playing this all wrong. They need to fund raise 10's of thousands of dollars so they can purchase a seat or two at a Liberal party dinner. Perhaps then their concerns may get some attention.

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Caroline Snyder says:
April 29, 2016 07:37am

Appealing to Government agencies that promote this harmful practice is useless. Review panels need to be comprised of impartial experts, rather than industry funded researchers. Biosolids are a complex mixture of thousands of contaminants, including superbugs. Respiratory exposure to biosolids dust is the most dangerous exposure pathway and has been linked to rare forms of pneumonia and staph infections. We appeal to all health professionals to get involved. Listen to your patients. Do they get better when they stay indoors? When they temporarily leave the area? Do their symptoms return when they go back home? Identical symptoms linked to sludge exposure have been reported all over North America. Even if the exact chemical combination and other contributing factors that are sickening people is still unknown, this harmful practice needs to be banned.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/activists-fight-biosolids-land-application-zbcz1604.aspx


For a copy of a new Sludge Activists Tool Kit visit www.sludgefacts.org

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Pierre Filisetti says:
April 29, 2016 06:27am

If you pay taxes to the City you should be looked after.
I too am surprised by the City not having any control over what’s going on in the city. Actually and I am not surprised at all.

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dorite says:
April 29, 2016 04:17pm

Pierre - it is easier and more comfortable for Councilors NOT to have control of contentious matters. They can safely sit on the fence to let others decide the outcome; then comment.

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Gary Chandler says:
April 29, 2016 05:58am

Remember what mad cow disease did to Canada's economy? How about chronic wasting disease among wildlife? Guess what is driving the global epidemic of neurological disease among people. These are prion diseases. Guess where 99% of prion contamination of food, water and air comes from. http://crossbowcommunications.com/land-application-of-sewage-sludge-spreading-brain-disease/ The risk assessments are flawed. They also came from the U.S. EPA without any revision. It's time to end the negligence and corruption that have put profits over homeland security.

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Chris says:
April 28, 2016 08:19pm

There has been tests, studies time spent by city councilman the Ajax mine has been studied to the best of our ability.,but what of our residents in Dallas and Barnhartvale.. We were not informed there was not a test as to what our air quality would be as soon as Bio-Solid were to be dumped within city limits so closeto our homes. And if you think it does not effect you because you don't live near ... Your water comes from here !!!!

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Jayne says:
April 28, 2016 06:21pm

Maybe instead of leaving it up to these folks to prove that biosolids are causing their health problems, Interior Health should prove that they are not.

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Alan Dubbs says:
April 28, 2016 05:00pm

It may be window dressing for an election, but that will not fool the many voters who wonder why this is allowed to happen so close to the Thompson river? This is a world famous salmon spawning site, an owl shut down logging somewhere in BC before, maybe the fish can stop this in Kamloops?

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peter says:
April 28, 2016 12:37pm

I wonder if they are mining the "biosolids" or buying them from somewhere? :)

It seems to me there would be a pretty short list of suspects selling the biosolids...city of Kamloops perhaps?

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Alan Dubbs says:
May 10, 2016 06:53pm

The more dangerous Class B product mostly comes from Metro Vancouver, Last year Laurie Ford came to city council to lobby them. It appears no other municipalities are eager to take the Class B product.

Strange that thousands of Kamloopsians worry that Ajax dust might get us here in town from an operation not existing yet, while the Barnhartvale dust can easily come down the valley from an ongoing operation?

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SayNo says:
May 8, 2016 10:33am

they are coming from Vancouver...Arrow Transport takes ore down to Vancouver and backhauls GVRD sewage sludge

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Don says:
April 28, 2016 12:37pm

There have been many new scientific reports about serious problems with applying biosolids on land. Please take the time to read these and decide for yourself...
1. http://m.thespec.com/opinion-story/6368861-scientists-open-letter-on-the-dangers-of-biosolids
2. http://www.newsweek.com/eating-meat-grazed-human-sewage-might-lower-female-fertility-432537
3. Health risks http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/sludge-train-zbcz1604.aspx
www.biosolidsbc.com

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Annie says:
April 28, 2016 12:09pm

When resident's concerns appears to be ignored, it can get really frustrating. What does the science say? Precautions should be taken, serious ones at that. Companies are making large profits, often putting the health and peace of mind of the residents on the back burner.

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Leona Antoine says:
April 28, 2016 11:09am

The Class B comes from Annacis Island , which is the dirtiest of sludge that are concentrated from industrial park. These residents have every reason be concerned.

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Jason says:
April 28, 2016 11:05am

I support these residents and I think that Interior Health ignores Kamloops most of the time. The presentation to council the other day by IHA was ridiculous. The study they are doing of Ajax has focussed on air quality - but what about quality of life and mental health? Shouldn't IH be bringing these sorts of concerns forward?

What a limited lens for the health authority to use - they should investigate the concerns of the residents of Barnhartvale. Maybe things would be different if we had a medical health officer who actually lived here instead of in Kelowna.

I heard at the city meeting that the city wants Ajax to use the city biosolids up at the site. Do you know if that is true NewsKamloops? Will the residents of Kamloops have S*** mixed in to the dust from mining operations if Ajax goes ahead? No one deserves that!

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Mary says:
May 8, 2016 03:57pm

How frustrating is this for people to have to deal with. What about the QUALITY OF LIFE for human beings? If there is any truth in the City even possibly thinking to use bio solids (sewer sludge) at any mine site close to the city, that would seem criminal knowing there is enough independent science now to show how dangerous this is. I think I would be looking at getting a new Council at the next election. They are supposed to protect their citizens. The OMRR gives them the ok to do this, but that does not mean it is the correct thing to do. Be responsible to do better and find better answers. People who pay their taxes should not have to be subjected to this practice over their heads and expect illness for their future. Mines also have aquifers and water sources below that can carry this into wells and rivers.

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