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A consulting company overseeing Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy procurement process has withdrawn after the regional district decided the firm’s role was tainted by the emergence of an email showing “unacceptable bias” from a staff member.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

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in Port Coquitlam causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the PoCo rail yard.

Mission RCMP recover 22 stolen vehicles and several firearms

Charges are still pending after police search two separate properties

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

UPDATE: Brother of teen killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down while on his way home from dinner with his family

UPDATE: Rockslide keeps Coquihalla northbound lane closed

Highway 5 is closed in one direction.

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Semi rollover on Highway 3

Highway 3 is reduced to single-alternating lanes

Most Read