Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Prince Rupert Needs to Clean Up its Act

I had a talk with Harbourmaster Gary Paulson last week. He did a good job of convincing me that we have the greenest container port around. Sailing times from the Far East to Prince Rupert are up to three days shorter than to the big Pacific ports like Long Beach in California. Plus our port utilizes the railroad ( a more efficient form of transportation than trucks) to a much greater extent than other ports. There are no long lines of idling trucks waiting for containers as in Long Beach, no congested highways, no bottlenecks.

According to our harbourmaster, there is another reason that our container port can be considered green - its wastewater treatment facility. Prince Rupert's new Container Port has a sewage treatment plant that treats greywater and blackwater from the port and puts out water into our harbour that is clean enough to drink. It even has a rainwater separator that separates the oil residue from the rainwater runoff.

When it comes to wastewater treatment Fairview Terminal clearly outshines the city of Prince Rupert, which has absolutely no sewage treatment at all. Nothing but seven aging outlet pipes that drain untreated sewage straight into our harbour. And if you think that that sewage always stays on the bottom think again. If we really want to be considered a green port Prince Rupert needs to clean up its act.

If you look at what we have in our city for separating oil from runoff and oil from bilge water it's pathetic. When it rains, oil from our roads goes straight into the harbour. The two waste oil containers that are situated near the water - one at Fairview Marina and the other at PetroCanada on George Hills Way, are constantly overflowing and guess where the overflow ends up?

Prince Rupert has stringent rules forbidding ships from dumping wastewater, which it should have, but the irony is that many of the big cruise ships that visit in the summer have state of the art wastewater treatment that produces cleaner water than what we have in our harbour.

The cruise ship industry, that a decade ago was considered the bad boys of waste disposal, has come a long way. Now in partnership with an outfit out of Victoria called Peninsula Wastewater Services Ltd. the cruise ships that visit our city send their recyclables to the local recycling depot, donate reusable items such as clothes and tablecloths to local charities and pay the Prince Rupert landfill to truck in their garbage.

According to Keelie Barr, Port Coordinator for Peninsula, there are plans afoot to build a small oily water separation plant for Prince Ruperts' waterfront - something that I think the city should encourage and expedite as much as possible. When it comes to wastewater treatment and recycling the new container port and the cruise ships are leaving Prince Rupert in the dust. If we want to go green we need to follow in their footsteps. As a port city we ought to be consistent. If we are going to call ourselves a green port we need to live up to that standard across the board.

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