Southern Alberta village council burns proposed biowaste incinerator

BEISEKER, Alta. — A proposal to build a biomedical waste incinerator near a southern Alberta village has been rejected after area residents raised concerns about emissions from the plant.

There was loud applause from about 100 people on hand Tuesday night when the five-member council in Beiseker, about 75 kilometres northeast of Calgary, unanimously voted down a land-use bylaw that would have allowed the incinerator to proceed.

The plant would have been built on land owned by Alberta-based G-M Pearson and create 22 full-time jobs for workers who would incinerate 8,000 tonnes of waste every year, including human tissue.

It would also have provided tax revenue for the community, which is about $160,000 in debt.

Despite the economic benefit, many residents complained about a lack of consultation on issues surrounding the health and environmental impact on farms, cattle and the local water supply.

G-M Pearson won’t speculate on what it will do with the land, but suggests selling it is one possibility.

Beiseker Mayor Warren Wise said Alberta Health and Alberta Environment had “no real issues” with the plant, but he described the company’s proposal as poor.

“They didn’t prepare people properly.”

Rockyview County resident Jane Sengerlang said the vote was a triumph for the community and that “democracy has prevailed.”

“It was the conviction and the knowledge that this was not safe, it was toxic and it was lethal for our children,” she said.

G-M Pearson’s website describes the family-run business as a long-term provider of “outstanding biomedical waste disposal services” for its clients.

The site says the company handles the waste from its removal and transportation to its final, safe disposal at government-approved facilities and is fully compliant with all Alberta environmental regulations.

Owner Joe Kress said the village council’s rejection is “just a bump in the road” and that he wants to see a medical waste facility built by his company, even if it’s not in Beiseker.

“We’re not giving up. Incineration for medical waste disposal is essential, so it has to go somewhere. Alberta needs an incinerator.” (CTV Calgary)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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