|Case Studies - Case two:
BEEHIVE BURNERS POLLUTION - Bulkley Valley, BC, 2000
A health study conducted by the BC government revealed that beehive burners and other sources of particulate matter are causing increased deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and the loss of work and school days by people with respiratory ailments. The health costs, annually, are estimated at over $70 million. Beehive burners were closed down in the United States over 30 years ago.
In late 1995, the NDP government introduced a new regulation that required all polluting beehive burners near B.C. communities to shut down by December 31, 1997.
Since that date the government has given repeated extensions to the companies operating beehive burners, most recently with an amendment to the regulation made in July 2000 that permits 22 burners to keep polluting (Also, the Tax Shift Pilot Project announced on July 17, although ostensibly aimed at a complete phase-out of burners, in effect gives the polluters anther 4 years to get rid of them.!)
This backtracking not only creates prolonged risk of the increased number of premature deaths in B.C., it also puts the responsible timber companies who shut their burners down at a competitive disadvantage against their rivals who have dragged their heels in failing to comply with the old law, while lobbying successfully to have the law changed.
These days, on behalf of three residents of the Bulkley Valley, Sierra Legal is appealing permits for three beehive woodwaste burners that produce particulate pollution known to be harmful to human health. Before the Environmental Appeal Board, Tim Howard, a Sierra Legal lawyer, assisted by Dr. Amir Attaran, argues that the permits should be revoked because of the burners negative health effects. They also argue, for the first time in legal history, that because the pollution has a greater effect on both young and elderly people, it is discriminatory, and contravenes Canadas Charter of Rights and Freedoms!
Thirty members of the public rallied in support of revoking the permits on the first day of the hearing.
If successful, the appeal in the Bulkley Valley case could stand as a precedent for the shut down of not only the three burners in question, but also more than 20 burners across the province, much earlier than the Ministrys deadline of December 31, 2004 and thus save huge costs in lives, health and money.