The proponents behind the idea for a wasteto-energy garbage incinerator at Duke Point have a message for the Nanaimo region: Give us a chance.
Representatives from Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., Urbaser Ltd. and Seaspan Ferries Corporation met with local officials on Wednesday to shine some light on what a facility at Duke Point could mean for the region.
Metro Vancouver's intention to increase its capacity by 370,000 tonnes of waste per year has resulted in a short-list of nine different proponents, including Wheelabrator.
The proponents eyeing Nanaimo say media reports that connected the Wheelabrator proposal to Duke Point launched the discussion before they had a chance to jump in.
"Do not close the door right now," said David Garcia de Herreros, the U.S. and Canada representative for waste management firm Urbaser.
Wheelabrator is a New Hampshire-based subsidiary of Waste Management. The company operates 17 WTE facilities in the U.S. and two in China.
Wheelabrator's ally in the proposal is environmental services provider Urbaser, based in Madrid.
Seaspan Ferries are the local link as operators of a commercial terminal at Duke Point and offer a transportation solution for the out-of-region proposal.
Together the companies hope to form all or part of a solution for Metro Vancouver's desire to increase WTE capacity.
While the proponents are cautious to give precise details about their Duke Point concept - their eight competitors in the process have enjoyed more secrecy up to this point - they have stressed that a WTE facility will offer jobs and offer a waste disposal method that is superior to using landfills.
Construction jobs on what could be a $500 million project would surpass 300 in two to three year building phase. The WTE itself would employ around 70 people permanently.
The material would be moved along an existing transport route in enclosed containers. Barges powered by diesel and natural gas would make the 44 kilometre trip with enough material to fill a barge every two days.
Particulates and 'fly ash' created by the burning process would be landfilled, a 90 per cent reduction in the volume of waste. Negative air pressure in the WTE would prevent smells or dust from escaping.
Finally, the facility would generate electricity without fossil fuels. The proponents believe a WTE operation can become an anchor tenant, thanks in part to the heat and hot steam it can provide to neighbouring buildings.
"We're attempting to start the process of what we believe is a very green option," said Wheelabrator senior manager of business development Mark Schwartz.
The group stressed that any operation would follow strict emissions regulations and that the only 'plume' visible from the building would be water vapours escaping from the raw trash.
A WTE facility has operated in Burnaby since 1988. Covanta Burnaby processes some 285,000 tonnes of waste per year and generates up to 170,000 MWh of electricity, enough to power some 15,000 homes per year.
Burnaby's mayor and vice chair of the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste committee Derek Corrigan opposes any solution that would send waste out of the region.
But, says Corrigan, the city has never had a problem with its WTE facility in 25 years of operation.
"It is controversial. There are a lot of people who are just absolutely against any possibility of incineration and they don't care what the science says. It's not relevant to them," he said.
"Our incinerator has never (exceeded) the provincial environmental standard. .. A new incinerator will be even better."
The Duke Point proponents say they have reached out to the Snuneymuxw First Nation and await their input.
Metro Vancouver's process to identify potential sites is expected to conclude by November.
Proponents short-listed by Metro Van for WTE .
COVANTA (1), mass-burn.
COVANTA (2), gasification.
ENERGY ANSWERS refusederived fuel and mass-burn.
LEHIGH refuse-derived fuel and cement kiln.
MUSTANG -JFE refuse-derived fuel, anaeorobic digestion, gasification. PLENARY mass-burn.
WHEELABRATOR/URBASER mass-burn SOURCE: METRO VANCOUVER
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