Californian Denny Larson, a 25-year veteran of neighbourhood campaigns
to combat industrial polluters, finds the circumstances that bring him
to Prince George very typical.
A group within the community has
become frustrated that despite the organization of a multi-stakeholder
group that includes industry and government to improve air quality, and
years of discussion and monitoring, their on-the-ground experience has
not changed. "They feel they are not getting the whole story - there's
the same smell and it makes them sick," said Larson, who heads up the
advocacy group Global Community Monitor.
The California-based group
has helped communities and neighbourhoods around the world collect
samples of smelly air - using bucket brigades - that are then tested
for their harmful chemicals. The idea is to give local people their own
data to push government and industry to make improvements.
George air quality advocacy group and the Millar Addition Citizen's
Coalition combined forces to invite Larson to town to learn how to put
together their own bucket brigade using five-gallon buckets. After
samples are collected they are sent by courier to a lab for testing.
fine particulates are the key air pollutants that provincial regulators
have focused on in Prince George, the Millar Addition group and the
People's Action Committee for Healthy Air want to know what's behind
the smell they believe could be more than a nuisance.
president Dave Fuller noted that last weekend was a terrible weekend
for odours. "Denny couldn't be coming to Prince George at a better time
to help Prince George address this issue," said Fuller.
Prince George, Larson will be taking a tour of the industrial areas of
town, then he will take part in a public meeting at 7 p.m. at the Coast
Inn of the North, before heading up a bucket brigade training session
The power of the bucket brigade is, it allows people to
test the air in their own backyards, or go to places where they know
the air quality is poor, stressed Larson.
While it's possible that a
bucket brigade may find no problems, generally they find the problem is
worse than suspected, he said.
Global Community Monitor helped set
up a bucket brigade in the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ont.,
where the testing in 2008 delivered results that found hazardous levels
of sulfur compounds. The Aamjiwnaang First Nation is in an area of
A bucket brigade monitoring system in tiny
Addyston, Ohio, helped push the state in 2005 to order a plastics plant
to reduce emissions and undertake upgrades.