Parents at a South Surrey school are taking their concerns with air emissions from a nearby galvanizing plant to the Environmental Appeal Board this week, after the facility was granted permission to discharge emissions.
Metro Vancouver issued a permit authorizing “the discharge of air contaminants to the air from a hot dip zinc galvanizing facility” to Ebco Metal Finishing LP on March 28. The permit expires Feb. 28, 2033 – but those “aggrieved” by the decision have until Friday to appeal it.
The plant, at 18699 25 Ave., is a stone’s throw away from East Kensington Elementary, which began operating as an outdoor-learning centre at its 2795 184 St. site last fall.
Joanna Mueggenburg, whose seven-year-old son attends the school, said she and other parents are angry that air emissions would be allowed so close to an elementary school.
“People are just outraged that they’ve been allowed to get to this state, even,” Mueggenburg said. “That our children could be breathing in these contaminants and nobody seems to care.”
The concerns are not new.
Residents first contacted Peace Arch News about the plant in 2015, citing concerns with such a facility being built so close to an elementary school, as well as with the lack of public notice around it.
At that time, Ebco owner Hugh Eppich told PAN that “machine shops or other shops would emit more pollution than we have.”
When a short-term authorization to discharge contaminants was issued two years ago, Metro’s environmental regulation and enforcement division manager, Ray Robb, described Ebco’s proposed emissions as “not a particularly large amount.”
“A first cut is that this is at the low end in terms of the harmfulness of emissions,” Robb said.
According to the permit issued last month, emission contaminants at the plant include zinc, nickel and particulate matter.
Area residents say they are also concerned with the potential impact to identified ‘sensitive receptors’ including Erikson Creek, Loblaws, the local aquifer and a new Catholic school that is to be built on 184 Street near 24 Avenue.
Mueggenburg, who also operates a forest school on property across the street from the galvanizing plant – the same property she grew up on – said claims the emissions levels are low do not sit well with her.
“Well, they don’t have to breathe it in,” she said, of those who made the statements.
If the permit is upheld, “I don’t want to live here anymore,” she added.
“I don’t want my children to end up with health concerns by my age.”