Environmental review finds pollution dumped in Burrard Inlet at record levels

May 30, 2003

In 2002, BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (MWLAP) effluent permits allowed 769 million cubic meters of industrial pollution to be dumped into Burrard Inlet. And the amount of effluent entering the Inlet has increased dramatically from 32 million meters in 1957 when permits were first issued. These were among the findings of a review of MWLAP effluent permits conducted by SPEC with support from the Georgia Strait Alliance and the Waste, Health and Toxics Caucus of the BC Environmental Network.

“After more than four decades of talking about reducing the amount of industrial pollution in our surrounding waters, we now learn more effluent than ever is going into Burrard Inlet,” said SPEC researcher Sophika Kostyniuk. “Every year we are dumping the equivalent of 223,014 Olympic size swimming pools full of waste water containing pollutants such as cadmium, cyanide, zinc and MTBE gas additive into the Inlet.”

Kostyniuk found that the number of provincial effluent discharge permits increased from a single permit in 1957 to 25 active permits in 2002. She also learned that MWLAP records don’t contain sufficient information to determine how much hazardous materials such as cyanide, lead zinc, residual chlorine, ammonia, nitrates, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and PCBs are actually ending up in the water.

“We’re hopeful this review will focus attention on the fact that Burrard Inlet has become a dumping ground for chemicals that are harmful to human health and the marine environment,” said Christianne Wilhelmson, Georgia Strait Alliance’s Clean Air and Water Program Coordinator.

Jay Ritchlin, Chair of the BC Environmental Network’s Waste, Health & Toxics Caucus noted that “The Burrard Inlet review highlights a problem our members see across the province. We just don’t know the details of what is really being dumped into our air, water and soil, so we can’t work as effectively to create positive improvements.”

Information: A Review of Burrard Inlet Effluent Discharges