AR-News: Cache Creek cries foul over plan to dump tainted poultry
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 14 20:55:18 EDT 2004
Cache Creek cries foul over plan to dump tainted poultry
Larry Pynn, with files from Jim Beatty
CanWest News Service, with files from the Kamloops Daily News
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta speaks to protesters blocking the road to the
Cache Creek landfill Tuesday.
CACHE CREEK --Protesters blocked the passage of semi-trailer trucks loaded
with ordinary municipal waste from the Lower Mainland for more than seven
hours Tuesday as a show of defiance over provincial plans to haul poultry
infected with avian flu to their community for disposal.
Close to 100 protesters who rallied outside the Cache Creek landfill
dismantled their blockade only after issuing a stern warning to the B.C.
"We want to send a very clear message to the government," said Union of B.C.
Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip, wielding a megaphone while standing
atop a flat deck truck wedged sideways across the landfill entrance.
"If they simply dismiss this protest action here today, brush it aside and
attempt to carry out their plans of disposing of these carcasses in this
landfill site, we'll come back in greater numbers and we will dig in at this
site and stay here."
Asked if protesters were willing to risk arrest, Bonaparte Indian Band chief
Mike Retasket said: "I know I will risk my personal freedom and I know other
non-natives are willing to do the same."
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta sounded equally defiant, calling Premier Gordon
Campbell a "chicken" for not calling him to discuss the issue.
"The people of this area are not willing to accept contaminated chickens in
our landfill. What part of 'no' don't you understand, Mr. Premier?"
Cache Creek is outraged by a provincial ministerial order issued last
weekend that allows poultry infected with the avian flu in the Fraser Valley
to be trucked to the Cache Creek landfill for disposal.
The province, working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, says it
needs the landfill to help deal with the tens of thousands of birds that
will have to be disposed of under a plan to eradicate the avian flu.
Also being enlisted are the Bailey landfill in Chilliwack, the Greater
Vancouver Regional District incinerator in South Burnaby, and the Similco
Mine incinerator in Princeton. Where possible, poultry is also being
composted in infected farms in the Fraser Valley.
The vast majority of the 19 million birds slated for slaughter are healthy
and will flow into the food chain in the normal way.
In Victoria, Agriculture Minister John van Dongen called on local mayors to
stop playing politics with a provincial crisis and start providing
"This is an emergency situation across the province and it requires a
provincewide response like we saw with the forest fires last summer," van
Dongen said. "I am a farmer myself and I do not want avian influenza in the
Interior. Nor do I want a bunch of rotting carcasses in the Fraser Valley
because of internal squabbling within British Columbia. This is not a time
for playing politics."
Van Dongen said he understands the concerns of people in rural B.C. who are
worried the flu virus could spread to their communities if infected, rotting
chicken carcasses are dumped in local landfill sites. "I can assure the
people of Cache Creek and Princeton and Burnaby and Chilliwack that we are
not trying to ship our problems somewhere else."
Van Dongen, who has had several conversations with concerned mayors, is
preparing to send a team of health officials into all the affected
communities to answer specific questions about the disposal issue.
At a news conference Tuesday, Van Dongen and provincial health officials
minimized the risks associated with shipping the infected poultry.
If dead chickens are shipped to Cache Creek, they will be placed in
double-walled bags with sawdust to enhance composting. The bags will be
sealed at the farm, shipped in closed trucks and placed in open pits in the
The bags, which are never opened, would then be buried with lime and clay
and left to decompose.
"The virus will ultimately be completely denatured, or inactivated, by this
particular process," said Dr. Cornelius Kiley, the regional veterinarian
with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
But Ranta said the issue is as much about broken promises as the risk of
avian flu escaping in the Interior. People are just as upset about the
government's willingness to break a contract, he said.
Ranta said Ashcroft and Cache Creek agreed to the presence of the monster
landfill because residents understood the dump would handle only household
waste -- not special or biohazardous wastes.
© Copyright 2004 Times Colonist (Victoria)
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