Saturday, October 25, 2008

Really stinky dirt

A few months ago, landscapers laid down some really stinky dirt around the Production Way/University Sky Train stop in Burnaby. It was mostly put down under an overhang where the rain couldn't get to it, and it smelled so bad for months it would make you gag while waiting for or getting off the bus. It is a uniform very dark brown in colour and smelled like a pig feedlot to me.

Now, the same kind of terrible-smelling dirt is being laid down around the VCC-Clark Skytrain station, at the foot of North China Park. I asked one of the workers what it was, and he said it was a mixture of cow manure and dirt. I said "that's not like any cow manure I ever smelled, smells like pig manure to me." He said "there's probably some of that in there, too. Also residue from mushroom farming." I said "mushroom farming, they use dangerous chemicals in that." He said "yes, when this stuff is dry you can set fire to it and it will blow up."

Now, he may have been exaggerating, but I really think someone from the new high-paid Translink Board should be made to come out there and actually walk around the Sky Train station for a change and get a whiff of it. Maybe they would change their dirt contractor.

I believe in recycling manure, but that smells strong enough to burn up anything alive. If you go look at the Production Way Sky Train station where it was laid down months ago, the smell has diminished but there's still nothing growing in it. That's not healthy dirt - something would be growing in good dirt by now. You can't just put stuff like that at full strength on the ground - you need it to be worked on by organisms, first bacteria and then after it loses some of its strength, by the right kind of worms.

There's some information about the use of worms to recycle manure from pig farms in this review of The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Worms.

Just this week, CBC's The National exposed illegal practices being done with recycling electronic waste from the Vancouver area. Wouldn't surprise me if this dirt we're seeing around the Sky Trains is also the result of some illegal recycling. If not illegal, the way it's being prepared should be illegal. Go walk by there and sniff if you don't believe me.

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