Stop Postponing the Inevitable

Times Colonist
Friday, July 18, 2003

We’re disappointed that the Times Colonist has thrown its weight behind the outdated and dangerous myth that Victoria has a “natural, efficient way of dealing with [its] waste” (“That 1,000 grams of PCBs,” July 12).

It’s appalling enough that in the 21st century, a major urban center continues to dump raw sewage and storm water, containing a multitude of toxic contaminants, into the marine environment.

What’s even worse is the TC’s assertion that discharging three grams per day of PCBs is trivial.

The cumulative impact of this and all the other sources of PCBs around our region is considerable and we should be doing everything in our power to stop contributing to the problem.

PCBs accumulate in fatty tissues and pass through cell walls, causing widespread damage. PCBs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic and interfere with the hormones that control growth and development. In humans and wildlife, PCBs cause a wide range of impacts including cancer, birth defects, reproductive failure and damaged immune systems.

PCBs are one of the recognized factors threatening the endangered southern resident killer whales. According to Joseph Cummins, associate professor of genetics at the University of Western Ontario, if even as little as 15 per cent more of the world’s PCB stocks get into the oceans, “the extinction of marine mammals would be inevitable.”

Your editorial urged the CRD to “track down the sources of the pollution, and stop the flow” before toxic substances get into the sewage system, and we agree this is important. However, by itself it’s not enough.

Secondary treatment can remove up to 99 per cent of PCBs from sewage along with many other contaminants. There is no sound scientific support for continuing to dump 120 million litres of raw sewage daily into our coastal waters. It’s long past time for the CRD and province to stop postponing the inevitable and get moving on treatment.

Laurie MacBride,
Executive Director, Georgia Strait Alliance.

© Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)