Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) chairs the Metro Vancouver zero waste committee. Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross opposes construction of any new garbage incinerator in the region.

Metro incineration consultants exit after ‘biased’ email

FVRD reps had voiced concern about firm overseeing waste-to-energy procurement

A consulting company overseeing Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy procurement process has withdrawn after the regional district decided the firm’s role was tainted by the emergence of an email showing “unacceptable bias” from a staff member.

Metro officials agreed HDR Corp.’s $1.9-million contract, which was up for likely renewal at the end of December, should end because of a May 18 email from a senior HDR staff member to a Metro manager.

“The email, if read on its face, seemed to indicate the possibility of a bias towards certain technologies,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who chairs Metro’s zero waste committee.

He would not say if the email showed preference towards mass-burn incineration or to one of a variety of other technologies that could be used in a new plant to burn 370,000 tonnes per year of Metro garbage.

Brodie said the email didn’t come to the attention of senior Metro managers until early November but officials then took “immediate action.”

He said Metro’s procurement process – now underway – was not compromised or inappropriately designed as a result of HDR’s work, adding the HDR staffer who sent the email didn’t have any technical involvement in the work.

Even a perception of bias couldn’t be allowed, he added.

“We’re under an obligation to have a fair and unbiased and complete and transparent process,” Brodie said.

He said a new consulting firm will be found to oversee the process.

Four independent experts have been selected to help guide the process and HDR was to oversee them.

Brodie wasn’t able to say how much money or time the change might cost taxpayers.

Metro is now inviting firms to propose technologies and later in 2013 it will ask short-listed firms and other property owners to propose sites. The region intends to send garbage to a new waste-to-energy plant or plants starting in 2018 and end shipments to the Cache Creek landfill.

A statement issued by HDR said the email could be perceived as attempting to influence the procurement process but adds that did not happen.

“The process was not influenced but we want to avoid any appearance of impropriety, so we asked Metro Vancouver to end our contract in the project’s best interest.”

Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) politicians have repeatedly accused Metro Vancouver of being biased in favour of building a new incinerator in the region – where they say it would worsen air pollution in the Valley – rather than fairly considering alternatives.

“Something just seems really fishy here,” Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross said.

She said she raised concerns about HDR with Metro months ago after they learned former Metro waste policy manager Ken Carrusca now works for the firm as its solid waste manager for western Canada.

The ex-manager had been involved in previous Metro-led consultations about waste-to-energy that FVRD reps charged were pro-incineration. HDR said Carrusca was not the sender of the email.

“We had a concern he was so closely tied to Metro Vancouver and this was supposed to be an independent firm with fresh eyes on the subject,” Ross said.

She said it’s frustrating Metro Vancouver accuses Valley politicians of playing on emotion rather than science, adding she believes their criticisms that incinerators are unsafe and likely unnecessary will be vindicated.

“We will prove them wrong in the end,” Ross said. “But my fear is ultimately, they’ll still build these things.”

 

ABOVE RIGHT: Former Metro Vancouver Integrated Planning Division Manager Ken Carrusca.

Just Posted

Two-year-old attacked by cougar in Cascade Falls Regional Park

Boy not seriously injured in incident on Monday afternoon near Mission

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

VIDEO: SUV crashes into Downtown Abbotsford store

Front window of Jazz-Ma-Tazz destroyed in afternoon crash

Publication ban lifted on Letisha Reimer’s name

Reimer’s family had supported an application by The News to lift ban

Mission girl gets her wish to go to Disneyworld

Children’s Wish Foundation, Vancouver Christmas Market and Vancouver Canucks help raise funds

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Emergency task force calls for safe supply of drugs in Vancouver to prevent ODs

Dr. Patricia Daly says more people are dying alone in the city than elsewhere in the province

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

New B.C. Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks adds eight to coaching staff

DeVone Claybrooks has filled out his staff for the 2019 season

Road to the World Juniors leads through B.C.

Finland plays Denmark on Wednesday, United States takes on Czech Republic on Saturday

Most Read