March 28 2007
Directors : C.R.D.
This letter is to urge you to appeal to Mr.Penner to re-examine the evidence which determined him to impose a land-based treatment requirement. He quoted the recent SETAC report The conclusion of that report reads
...the benefits of treatment cannot be described or calculated with any precision. This observation does not mean that the benefits would be insignificantThe last sentence reads
a potential approach might be to install treatmentConsiderations about what the public would like took up the rest of the conclusion and were clearly therefore a core reason for proposing that approach. Never before will a fortune have been spent on a project the benefits of which cannot be described precisely (they are not described at all).
No-one knows more about this issue than Dr. Peter Chapman . A recent report by him reads ."...the scientific evidence to date is clear: ecological effects attributable to the outfalls are small in magnitude and limited in spatial extent, do not translate into major effect on ecosystem function, are similar to North American jurisdictions with primary/secondary treatment, and may be decreasing over time". This view is consistent with those of all the scientists involved in monitoring for the last 35 years and the contrast between the two views is stark. SETAC do not claim that lack of treatment will cause damage. We only have their double negative. No official view has been provided giving the opinion of local scientists about the SETAC report, nor even about the views of our famous Pat Bay Oceanographic Centre. Some years ago their Director, Dr. Bob Stewart, an internationally renowned scientist now deceased, gave lectures in Victoria to explain why treatment was not needed. It damages the local scientific community to play no part in Victoria’s most important scientific issue.
Mr.Penner also wrote about toxic metals. Scientists tell me their molecular form in salt water cannot do damage; also the quantities are insignificant compared with, say, Emory Creek on the lower mainland, just one of many old gold mine sites that used huge amounts of mercury. No comparison was made with other outfalls in the Province in far more critical locations.
There follows some observations about adverse effects-see separate link. The most reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that building land based plants will have the net effect of causing some environmental damage and accordingly should not proceed even if it cost nothing. Similar deductions have been made on this issue about long outfalls versus secondary treatment in other parts of the world where conditions are less favourable.
Yours Truly, J.E.Dew-Jones, P.Eng.
For detailed technical appraisal by dedicated professionals see www.rstv.ca