Do you see a disconnect?


The Metro Waste Draft Plan includes the building of new Waste-to-Energy facilities inside and/or outside our region.

Here is my speech to them last night in a building filled with VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS forcing me to speak while attached to an oxygen tank inhaling O2 at 5 litres per minute:

First I want to thank you for adding this additional Public Consultation evening to your agenda.

My name is Elaine Willis and I have had the privilege of being a teacher for most of my adult life.  Because of what has been labelled Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, the privilege of continuing my chosen profession, for pay, has been suspended.

People with an exquisite sensitivity to toxic chemicals are often called “canaries.” The name comes from the old practice of miners who took canaries with them into the mines; if the canary died from toxic air in the shaft, the miners had time to escape with their lives. People with chemical sensitivities are the canaries of the modern world.

In 1999, a consensus was reached among a large group of specialists in defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as

[1] a chronic condition

[2] with symptoms that recur reproducibly

[3] in response to low levels of exposure

[4] to multiple unrelated chemicals and

[5] improve or resolve when incitants are removed

THE BC LUNG ASSOCIATION website tells us that some 30% of Canadians already report adverse reactions to some chemical products.

In layman’s terms, people with MCS react unfavorably when exposed to any amount, from minute to gross, of toxic chemicals too numerous to list. Symptoms vary from fleeting to severe and might include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, fatigue, flushing, dizziness, nausea, coughing, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, migraine, or even life threatening seizures, anaphylaxis or respiratory distress. This chemical sensitivity condition is not rare and the numbers of people who have it are growing. I, myself, had a stroke caused by chemical exposure.

But the truth is, it’s not just chemically sensitive people who are being affected by a toxic environment. The general public is being exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals that didn’t even exist until a few decades ago. Many of these chemicals, some found in everyday household products like cleansers and cosmetics are known to be or are suspected of causing cancer, reproductive problems, developmental disabilities, and heart disease.

What has this to do with the Metro Solid Waste Management Plan?  These products will be disposed of – they are mostly unregulated, untested and uncontrolled. A look at Metro Vancouver’s Vision Statement which includes social justice and compassion, a beautiful and healthy natural environment and a commitment to the well-being of current and future generations shows a disconnect. How can the creation or even the consideration of the creation of mass incineration be on the table? How can any emissions into the air be considered acceptable?

Let’s go back to my teaching career – my 1990’s classroom. I hope you can try to visualize this… I did some early research projects with robotics using LEGO bricks and Apple computers for programming. Students as young as six years old worked in groups to create and program moving objects, many of which were vehicles. Of course, given their limited experience, either with machines, or with LEGO, the creations needed to be changed in order to function. I noted two distinct types of engineering strategies. There were those who saw the flaw, took the whole thing apart and started again with the new insights – and those who kept adding parts to compensate for the flaws, creating a bulkier machine, which may or may not function – flaws addressed, but in the end when the motors were attached, usually parts would go flying off in all directions. The analogy here is Metro’s DRAFT PLAN…many helpful citizens have pointed out the glaring flaw. Please don’t attach the motor!

When I was attending university, I had a professor, Milt McClaren, who was already taking the bus when most of us didn’t know what Environmental Studies were…the most important thing he taught me…There is no such place as away! We can’t incinerate the waste and think it is gone. The nanoparticles will go into my body. The ash will still go into the landfill. The filters and scrubbers, they have to go somewhere too.

Thank you.

And my subsequent comments left on the website where responses are welcomed:

http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/solidwaste/planning/Pages/Comments.aspx

and posted to the Tri-City Green Council website and Facebook:

DRAFT METRO WASTE PLAN: many people feel that the draft plan is a sham.. I am hopeful that I did not waste many evenings and much sober thought trying to convince the committee that the science that led to the draft plan contained some flaws and needs some revision…the hard work of the committee is appreciated – but …changes MUST occur. I had to leave due to air quality. I have now saved the taxpayers much money in medical expenditures. By preserving the airshed, we preserve the health of our citizens – I am not alone – I am your canary – with a system sensitive enough to detect that our modern world, industries, building materials, and endless pollution has reached a critical moment in time. Let’s turn this plan around now! The decisions made by METRO VANCOUVER can demonstrate leadership to the world – let’s do so!


NOTE: information about MCS copied from www.thecanaryreport.com – if you are interested in MCS or already show symptoms, this is a great resource for you.

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Comments
  1. Pooh says:

    Good job girl.

  2. Aloha Elaine! Thanks for all your hard work on MCS awareness and environmental issues. Susie xoxo

  3. Deborah Sevy says:

    Hi Elain, I was curious what they outcome of this was?

    • elainewillis says:

      As yet the plan is still “in progress”. I am a member of the Tri-City Green Council Steering Board, a group which facilitates a network of stewards and stakeholders in all local environmental issues. We continue to attend and be vocal about this issue. As yet, despite the fact that the “draft” plan still contains incinerators, they are no longer mentioned at the meetings. Follow issues here or at http://www.tricitygreencouncil.com – and hey, thanks for your interest!!

  4. Deborah Sevy says:

    Yes, I am especially interested because my parents spend their summers on Salt Spring Island. I asked them this morning if they new anything about the incinerator proposal and they said they did not. I will pass this information on to them .

    Thanks so much for your activism!

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