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Hazardous-material concerns raised over demolition of century-old East Vancouver grain silos

Click to play video 'Deconstruction of grain silos raises health concerns' Deconstruction of grain silos raises health concerns
WATCH: Deconstruction of Vancouver grain silos raises health concerns – Jun 25, 2019

East Vancouver residents are raising concerns about the planned demolition of a massive grain terminal on the city’s waterfront.

Grain distribution company Viterra is tearing down 42 silos at its 1918-built PAC 3 facility near Powell and Victoria streets, which it says has been deemed unsuitable for retrofitting due to building envelope integrity issues.

The facility has been out of use since 2010.

READ MORE: Surrey’s notorious Flamingo Hotel takes its final bow at demolition celebration

Posters have begun appearing around the neighbourhood raising concerns about hazardous materials at the site and warning residents to take precautions to limit their exposure outdoors.

Viterra says it is not behind the posters, which it says contain “misinformation.”

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The company acknowledges the century-old facility contains asbestos, PCBs and mercury but says it has developed an environmental management plan designed to minimize dust and create containment zones. The company says it will also monitory air quality.

WATCH: Surrey residents struggle with messy demolition

Click to play video 'Surrey residents struggle with messy demolition' Surrey residents struggle with messy demolition
Surrey residents struggle with messy demolition – Jun 27, 2017

The company also says suggestions on the posters that outdoor areas and playgrounds will not be safe are incorrect.

The project was approved following the Vancouver Port Authority’s environmental review process.

Kate MacDonald, who lives nearby, told Global News she wonders whether real-time air quality updates will be made available to residents while the project is underway.

“I think I’ll be limiting how much time I spend outside,” she told Global News, adding that she’s also bought an air purifier.

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READ MORE: Safety concerns raised after landscapers cut tree that crashes into Surrey home slated for demolition

But she said she also has questions about the anonymous posters that have been popping up in the area.

“I’d love to know who’s posting them and what the motivation is. Is it a concern they’re trying to point out about the project and that we should be less complacent about our health and the air we breathe?” she said.

But other residents like Richard Bergeron concede there’s not much they can do about the demolition.

“I was a little bit concerned,” he said.

“But for the most part, I think this area is kind of entrenched in industrialization so it’s pretty much steady around here anyway.”

The deconstruction is set to conclude in May 2020.