TNRD – Board workshop to challenge land application of biosolids

Protest against biosolids on Victoria Street in 2015.

Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

Biosolids, and ways to stop them from being put on the ground, will be under the microscope of Thompson-Nicola Regional District directors.

The board will organize a workshop to that end after debating the issue at length during Thursday’s (April 19, 2018) regular meeting.

Directors Randy Murray (Area M – Nicola Valley North) and Ken Gills (Area L – Grasslands) presented a motion proposing this:

“That the TNRD hold a TNRD Board workshop(s) focused on:
“the elimination of the land application of bio solids within the TNRD, and
“the review and implementation of alternative disposal/ storage methods for the region (gasification and/ or sequester) with the intent to end the land application of biosolids within the TNRD by delegated provincial authority.”

Murray made an impassioned case for working toward elimination of land application, a controversial practice that opponents say spreads toxins into the ground. Murray has long argued against it, siding with Nicola Valley residents who want it stopped.

While many directors spoke in favour of his proposal, others felt an objective approach is needed.

Kamloops director Ken Christian said it’s okay to study it but not to jump to conclusions. He said taking a biased approach on the workshop would be a “disservice” and a “waste of everybody’s time.”

Fellow Kamloops director Arjun Singh agreed with Christian, saying the workshop shouldn’t take a pre-determined position.

“I’d like to have this workshop but I don’t want to have this workshop with the end in mind,” he said.

Singh moved an amendment that would take the word “elimination” out of the first sentence and remove reference to the section beginning with “with the intent to end the land application….”

Though I felt Christian and Singh had a valid point, after listening to debate around the table, I opposed the amendment and voted for the motion because I like the idea of putting the status quo to the test. I also think the use of gasification deserves more attention as an alternative disposal method.

I argued that there’s significant public concern about applying biosolids to land and a workshop could hear science both from those who oppose it and those who assert it’s safe.

In fact, I suggested the workshop be set up in the form of a formal debate on the question of whether land application of biosolids should be eliminated.

It would be a dramatic departure from past board workshops so I doubt it will gain traction, but the debate format would certainly attract a lot of public interest and provide an easy way to compare both sides of the argument.

After Singh’s motion was defeated, the question on the original motion was called. Since votes aren’t counted individually, it’s often hard to know the exact count but it looked to me to be about 20-6 in favour.

Staff was then asked to look into the details and costs of holding the workshop. Since it’s a workshop, information from it won’t be binding on the board but it’s very possible it could provide direction for some new policies or lobbying.

About Mel Rothenburger (6691 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on TNRD – Board workshop to challenge land application of biosolids

  1. Georgia Clement // April 22, 2018 at 11:47 AM // Reply

    Can we not have INDEPENDENT scientists at the workshop and trust the people we elect to protect us to make the right decision??? The pro sludge industry is going to put forth their fake science if given the chance. We want peer reviewed, impartial science to base decisions on.
    Dr. David Lewis should be at this workshop and you really do not need anyone else. Dr. Lewis has the independence to give you all the science you need, he has no financial incentive to mislead, lie or cover up the truth, the pro Sludge Industry certainly does! We have researched this to death, we have all the test results required to know it is not “beneficial “ to anyone other than those making money from it. This workshop must include representatives from the Gasification industry, the model in Lebannon Tenn. cannot be ignored, that technology will be the only alternative the public will accept now. It is long past the time to stop spreading human sewage on land and duping the public by passing it off as ‘fertilizer ‘. Huge thank you to Randy Murray for tabling this Motion and to Ken Gills for seconding it!

  2. Sarah LaBounty // April 21, 2018 at 6:15 AM // Reply

    Glad armchair mayor finally jumped on board on this issue. “It’s ok to study it but not jump to conclusions”?……. They’d rather take their conclusions the outdated studies of the Consulting company that both “consults” the government on the regulations and safety of the biosolids, AND makes Millions of dollars on the contracts they have with municipalities to “safely” dispose of the sludge…. This is a huge step in the right direction on something that should have been questioned before spreading around homes and on crops to feed cattle. Thank you to those that voted this workshop in. Keep up the good hard work. Thank you Randy for pushing this issue!

  3. alan horne // April 20, 2018 at 7:51 PM // Reply

    Well done, Randy Murray, Ken Gillis and Mel Rothenburger for your good thinking and good work.

  4. I agree with you Luca. And let’s not forget the contamination of our wildlife after eating the grasses, run off into streams & lakes that do the fish no good, that have had this gross sludge applied

  5. Thank you to all those who voted for this workshop. If TNRD decides to embrace a cleaner, greener option, and end land disposal of its sewage waste on agricultural soils, I see a great marketing edge here. Foods (veg, fruits, beef, chicken, lamb etc) from this region, can be sold as guaranteed “sewer sludge free”. TNRD could create its own label declaring its purity, following the Organic labelling model (People may not know that Organic Certification in Canada and the USA means the food cannot have been grown/raised with any sludge / biosolids). Restaurants and consumers generally in the Vancouver area, and elsewhere, would embrace foods not tainted with sewer sludge. It is all about marketing a greener, safer product!

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