Submitted by citizens’ group, Rail Ties Be Wise –
Appealing an action by a provincial ministry is not for the faint of heart or the short of patience. Rail Ties Be Wise –the local citizen group challenging rail tie burning in Williams Lake – is finding that out through experience.
Atlantic Power Corporation has received approval to receive millions of railroad ties each year, burn them in its Williams Lake Power Plant, and dispose of the ash in an open pile. Thirteen Williams Lake residents have filed appeals to the relevant permits, raising health and safety concerns shared by much of the community. Rail Ties Be Wise formed to assist and support those appeals, and to express the community’s opposition.
To have standing before the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB), the appellants must be able to demonstrate that they are impacted by the decision in certain, narrowly-defined ways.
The Ministry of Environment has questioned the validity of some of these appeals. They moved to disqualify certain appellants and to disallow the topic of ash disposal to be considered. The lawyer for the appellants responded to MoE’s motion to strike.
As this paper goes to press, the EAB has a released a decision to strike some elements of the appeals, but many of the substantive air quality issues will definitely be heard. The board has denied AP’s request to disqualify several of the appellants.
We will have an update in early April on this decision and the implications for the larger campaign on RTBW Facebook and website: railtiesbewise.ca
So, if you have been wondering why you haven’t heard much about rail ties lately, we hope this explains it. We haven’t given up or gone away.
Meanwhile, our petition is still circulating, so please sign it if you haven’t already. Watch for us at events to come, stay tuned for news of another gathering, and keep talking to your contacts. You can keep up with developments and read about our research through our website www.railtiesbewise.ca. Thank you everyone for your support.