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‘Green Games’ claims under scrutiny

VANOC will publish its self-authored, post-Olympic sustainability report card Friday, reigniting the debate over whether the Vancouver Games were truly the greenest.

“You can plaster green on anything you want to -- that’s called paint -- but you better have something solid underneath that,” said Simon Fraser University marketing professor Lindsay Meredith.

Information obtained by 24 Hours during and after the Games shows how energy-intensive the event was.

The Jack Poole Plaza Olympic cauldron burned 182.4 Gigajoules of Terasen natural gas per day. Statistics Canada says an average natural gas-powered British Columbia house uses 81 Gj in a single year. The energy burned by the cauldron over 16 days would have powered 36 houses for a year.

ICBC insured 4,791 General Motors-provided cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles that were supplied 8 million litres of gasoline by Petro-Canada. Hydrogen for eight SUVs and 20 BC Transit buses was trucked all the way from Quebec.

Petro-Canada also supplied 8 million litres of diesel for 1,112 buses chartered from across North America. Those motorcoaches were driven a combined 5.1 million kilometres to and from Vancouver.

Despite public driving restrictions, a University of B.C. study showed downtown Vancouver automobile traffic declined by only 1.9 percent because of the volume of VANOC-operated or authorized vehicles.

More than 200 litres of diesel spilled Jan. 18 from one of the Aggreko generators that powered B.C. Place Stadium. Aggreko’s total diesel supply for generators at venues from Richmond to Whistler was 6 million litres.

VANOC contractors trucked 360 loads of snow totaling 9,400 cubic metres 160 kilometres from Manning Provincial Park to Cypress Mountain in February after January’s El Niño-influenced weather melted snow. A VANOC-commissioned report said 1.5 tonnes of snow-hardening chemicals were applied to the slopes. More than 1,000 bales of hay were imported, mostly from Oregon, for the parallel giant slalom course. Biologists were hired to trap mice that VANOC staff witnessed scurry out of delivery trucks.

There were 96.4 tonnes of garbage hauled from Cypress between Jan. 1 and March 23, but 701 tonnes were recycled or composted. American snowboarder Shaun White’s daring gold medal performance was among the highlights of Vancouver 2010, but the halfpipe was demolished after the Games.

Bob Mackin writes for 24 Hours Vancouver, where this story originally appeared.

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