Going up in smoke

RUBBISH disposal is a lucrative business in urban areas, so much so that we have companies that are eager to propose incinerators to help us deal with the problem.

After all, Japan and Germany are big-time users of this technology, so it has to be good right?

In 2004, the Kuantan Municipal Council built an incinerator for research and development purpose.

That incinerator design consumed about 120 litres of diesel to incinerate only one tonne of waste, due to the high water content of local waste.

That is essentially the difference between Japan and us when it comes to incinerator technology — Japan does not waste good diesel to burn rubbish like we would.

In order to utilise this technology properly, we really need to separate our rubbish first. Otherwise, burning wet rubbish requires adding fuel to the waste and that means we are burning money to dispose of waste.

It should be no problem to force Malaysians to start separating their rubbish, as a provision has been included under the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act for this purpose.

The clause just has not been activated by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister.

However, rubbish separation is not just a responsibility for households but markets, restaurants, factories, shopping malls and office towers too.

Most businesses would not have the means to enforce rubbish separation, and there is that tricky issue about being held responsible for the mess if someone decides to dump unsorted rubbish into your wastebin.

This is a headache our Government will have no answer for because there are only so many things laws can deal with.

People’s attitudes need to be changed for rubbish separation to work, and we just do not have that sort of civic consciousness in our society.

So, we have a problem separating rubbish at source but our Government is still keen on incinerators. Will that be a problem?

Well, we already have several incinerators operating in Malaysia — located in Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman, Labuan and Cameron Highlands, to name a few.

According to a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) study on incinerators done in 2013, incinerators “had failed due to faulty design, improper operation, poor maintenance, high diesel usage and waste characteristics, due to high moisture content of 60% to 70%.”

The existing incinerator operators know this is a huge problem and seek to mitigate it by separating the rubbish as best they can.

For example, the Pangkor incinerator operator segregates moist food waste and dispose of it at an adjacent landfill but the process is not perfect as the waste is already mixed by the time it gets to the incinerator.

This in turn causes the burning to be imperfect and smog is released into the air.

When it comes to incinerators in general, of equal concern is the residual ash from the burning process with possible by-products of toxins depending on what sort of rubbish got burnt (we would not know since rubbish segregation does not happen here). Does our Government have a programme to store and contain such waste in a safe area?

The same UKM study actually notes the following: “research has shown that in communities where incinerator plants are built, its long-term effects come in the form of reproductive dysfunction, neurological damage and other health effects are known to occur at very low exposures to many of the metals, and other pollutants released by incineration facilities.”

Are the authorities and all the proponents for incinerators really sure this sort of technology is suitable for the Klang Valley given the problem we have of even separating and sorting our rubbish?

What do we do when the incinerator has reached its capacity and unable to cater to escalating waste due to population growth?

Do we build more incinerators or do we advocate a sustainable method of reducing waste through Zero Waste Management when the amount of waste is reduced significantly and substantially?

There are private companies that are eager to explore such methods of turning our waste into useful products if they are given the chance.

Example technology includes anaerobic digestion that is a simple, natural breakdown of organic matter, which produces biogas — a fuel that can be burned to produce both heat and electricity — and methane, a substance that can be used as vehicle fuel.

The process produces a by-product called digestate, which can be used as fertiliser as it is rich in nutrients.

Indeed a whole new industry can be spawned from such recycling initiatives, which can be equally lucrative, as the by-products are actually useful.

But such possibilities are being overlooked in favour of implementing incinerator technology where we will be using fuel to burn away the rubbish.

Whatever it is, so long as the process is not looked at in detail and the issues I have highlighted not resolved, our Government can expect to face resistance from each and every resident group where the project is proposed next.

> Mak Khuin Weng cannot afford to send our politicians overseas for ‘lawatan sambil belajar’ trips, so he hopes this article would suffice in terms of his advocacy for recycling.

W.Va. authorities get five mobile drug incinerators

drug incinerators
Authorities unveiled a new mobile incinerator that will be used to destroy unwanted or expired prescription pills in the future.

State Police Lt. Michael Baylous, Putnam Sheriff Steve Deweese and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin hoisted large orange buckets filled to the brim with a mixed assortment of pills and dumped them, one by one, into the smoking maw of the black incinerator Tuesday afternoon at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.

The pills were from the 2.5 tons collected Saturday as part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Saturday’s event was the last event sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Goodwin said. The federal agency has conducted take-back days since 2010 because there weren’t any rules on properly disposing of unwanted or expired medications.

The DEA began working toward safe disposal rules after the first take-back day. The final rule was issued this year, allowing DEA-registered hospitals, pharmacies, long-term care facilities and others dealing in pharmaceuticals to modify their registrations to become authorized collection sites, according to the DEA’s website. Law enforcement agencies also may continue collecting pills.

Goodwin said when the events began there were no standalone drop boxes for medications. Now, both Kanawha and Putnam sheriff’s offices operate collection sites in Charleston and Winfield.

“We’ll continue on,” Deweese said. “We’ll support ourselves on it.”

The Putnam Sheriff’s Office collected some 221 pounds of medications in the last event.

Goodwin said the five mobile incinerator units were purchased with funds from the 2004 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin…

Mayo employee charged for killing pets, trying to burn them at incinerator

A Mayo Clinic employee is scheduled to make his first appearance in Mower County District Court on Thursday after being charged with killing his two pets and attempting to burn the bodies at the Mayo Clinic incinerator.

Daniel Joseph Carlson, 61, of Grand Meadow, was charged Sept. 10 with two felony counts of overwork/mistreat animals-torture based on an incident that allegedly occurred on Aug. 21.

According to the criminal complaint, an unnamed motorist informed an Olmsted County deputy at 8:18 a.m. Aug. 22 that Carlson, who works at the Mayo Clinic Waste Management Incinerator, had brought in a dog and cat that he’d killed in order to burn the bodies. The motorist claimed that Carlson said he’d “beat the dog to death with a stick and shot the cat” before placing the carcasses in a Mayo Clinic freezer.

Since Carlson lives in Grand Meadow, the incident report was forwarded to the Mower County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 25 for investigation; Sheriff Terese Amazi has expressed frustration that Olmsted County shared the incident with local media prior to sending her office the report in question.

During the ensuing investigation, Carlson told a Mower County deputy that he’d “had enough” with his pets urinating in his house and shot them both outside his home on Aug. 21. The cat had been experiencing “medical issues” for about a year and he’d been unable to house train his 5-year-old poodle, according to the criminal complaint.

Carlson told authorities that he put the dead animals in the incinerator’s freezer storage area. The deputy seized the animal’s bodies, which were stored in a black garbage bag, from the freezer as evidence.

On Aug. 26, the Austin Veterinary Clinic examined the dead animals. According to the criminal complaint, a single bullet wound was observed on each, but there was no other damage. The vet disposed of the bodies.

The Mayo Clinic released the following statement Tuesday on Carlson: “Mayo Clinic is aware of the charges and is fully cooperating with law enforcement. We cannot provide further comment on private, personnel issues, or issues involving legal proceedings in progress.”

If convicted, Carlson faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each charge.

U.S. nears solution for safe disposal of Ebola waste

The United States is days away from settling the critical question of how hospitals should handle and dispose of medical waste from Ebola patients, a government official said on Wednesday.

Experts have warned that conflicting U.S. regulations over how such waste should be transported could make it very difficult for U.S. hospitals to safely care for patients with Ebola, a messy disease that causes diarrhea, vomiting and in some cases, bleeding from the eyes and ears.

Safely handling such waste presents a dual challenge for regulators, who want to both prevent the accidental spread of the deadly disease and avert any deliberate attempts to use it as a bioweapon.

Most U.S. hospitals are not equipped with incinerators or large sterilizers called autoclaves that could accommodate the large amounts of soiled linens, contaminated syringes and virus-spattered protective gear generated from the care of an Ebola patient, said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Public Health Committee.

Sterilizing Ebola waste before it is transported is important not only to protect waste haulers but to guard against someone using the waste “for nefarious purposes,” said Sean Kaufman, ‎president of Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions, an Atlanta-based biosafety firm. “It’s not just a safety issue,” he said.

The matter, which was first reported by Reuters last month, may pose a significant challenge for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which is now treating the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed on U.S. soil.

Duchin said he is not aware of whether the hospital has its own incinerator or large autoclave, but if it does not, “they are going to have to find a temporary solution for managing infectious waste. That puts the hospital in a very difficult situation.”

Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, which oversees dangerous shipments, said her agency is “working on how we can clarify even further for hospitals, for the public, what the appropriate transportation should be.”

Another official said that news could come within days.

The issue centers on guidance over handling Ebola-contaminated waste. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises hospitals to treat items infected with the Ebola virus in leak-proof containers and discard them as they would other biohazards that fall into the category of “regulated medical waste.”

But the DOT deems Ebola a Category A infectious agent, meaning it is capable of killing people and animals, and not “regulated medical waste,” a category in which pathogens are not capable of causing harm.

Waste management contractors who normally handle hazardous hospital waste say they cannot legally haul the material, which leaves hospitals stuck without a way to dispose of the waste.

Already the issue has created problems. When Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was preparing to care for two U.S. missionaries infected with Ebola in West Africa in its high-security biocontainment unit, their waste hauler, Stericycle, initially refused to handle it.

Bags of Ebola waste quickly began piling up until the hospital worked out the issues with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the waste management problem has not been resolved yet, but he has said previously that the CDC is meeting with officials at the DOT to resolve the matter.

Duchin said he has heard that the discussion “has been elevated at the fed to decision makers who can solve the problem.”

A DOT official said the CDC and DOT will likely issue joint guidance by next week.

In China, people are protesting about the government’s rubbish policy on waste incineration

Chenjiachong Refuse Landfill in Wuhan

Protests against a proposed waste incinerator power plant involving thousands of residents took place in southern China over two weekends in mid-September.

The demonstrations, in Boluo county, Guangdong province, were the largest yet against a project that has caused numerous smaller demonstrations since its environmental impact assessment was formally released two years ago. A government plan detailing the likely site for the plant was released in June this year, increasing opposition to the proposal.

Investment in waste incinerators is seen as a solution to the inability of China’s infrastructure to handle the mountains of trash the country produces. The number of incineration projects has risen steadily and by last year between 15% and 20% of the country’s household waste was burned. The government intends to double this to 35% by 2015.

As in Boluo, many of these projects also double as power generation plants. On the surface this seems ideal for a country that is not only the world’s largest consumer of energy but also its largest producer of rubbish, at about 300m tonnes per year. Because they generate power, the enthusiasm for waste incineration plants is also driven by financial incentives. One 2012 analysis said such plants could earn profits for up to 22 years. The Gao’antun plant in Beijing, the report said, earns up to US$16m from electricity sales annually.

Burning anger

But this energy source comes with other costs – and waste incinerator plants are meeting growing resistance. Based on my social media analysis, at least 20 projects have sparked protests across China over the past three years, although the actual number may be even higher. Protesters’ primary grievance is pollution. In Boluo, residents fear that emissions will cause cancer and that the local water source, the Dongjiang River, would be polluted. Their concerns are warranted.

Globally, the environmental impact of incinerators is somewhat debatable. In Sweden, where the government has said 99% of all household waste is recycled, of which 50% is burned at waste incineration plants to produce energy, the plants are not controversial. But in the US, proposals for new plants face significant hurdles due to opponents who argue they may worsen air pollution and harm recycling efforts.

Even if there was a consensus that such projects in well-regulated environments are safe, “well-regulated” is not guaranteed in China. Many of the country’s waste incinerators are built to extremely low standards and are run by operators who fail to properly dispose of toxic by-products. And while some facilities may be installed with the proper air-pollution control systems, these are expensive to operate and many plants do not use them. As a result, Chinese waste incinerators might serve no purpose other than to trade one waste pollution problem off for another.

Calls for transparency

In response to the recent protests, Boluo officials promised to listen to public opinion and have allowed the public three months to suggest alternative locations. However, because local residents have opposed the plant since the first public consultation period in November 2012, it seems unlikely that the new process will change things significantly.

Officials have offered guarantees to residents that the proposed plant at Boluo will be safe but residents question the government’s honesty, a situation that is indicative of a much wider issue in China: a fundamental lack of trust in officialdom. For environmental protests, much of the distrust toward government claims stems from a lack of transparency on the controversial projects.

The central government at least recognises transparency is an issue, and vice environmental minister Li Ganjie has called on local authorities to share more information with the public.

However, such “sharing” is only effective if the information is truly transparent. Boluo officials have arguably released enough information regarding the project and have gone through the motions of a public consultation process, but locals still do not trust the government’s word.

Added to this is the issue of conflicting environmental priorities between central and local government. For the central government, maintaining social stability is closely linked to the Communist Party’s legitimacy, whereas local government officials tend to prioritise social stability when it impacts on economic stability. Therefore local governments have a strong incentive to push ahead with controversial projects if they can rely on them as even a short-term source of revenue.

The ongoing events in Boluo, and similar protests elsewhere, are certainly disruptive in the short-term but their long-term effectiveness is more questionable. Even if protesters succeed in forcing a project’s suspension, they rarely force an outright cancellation. In the end the Boluo project may be relocated, possibly to an area where equally disgruntled villagers have less power. A solution of sorts, but one that leaves the fundamental issues unresolved.

The only way to persuade the public that projects such as waste incinerators do not pose environmental and health hazards is to start meeting higher standards. Perhaps this process has already started. In January this year, the government released revised emissions standards for major industries, including pollution control at municipal solid waste incineration plants.

Even so, this may not be enough to undermine unrest. Until China’s local governments prioritise the environment and social stability over short-term economic gain, the problems will persist and the proliferation of environmental protest will likely continue.

the proposed Puerto Rico Resource and Renewable Energy Project in Arecibo

the proposed Puerto Rico Resource and Renewable Energy Project in Arecibo
SAN JUAN — Eight years into a drive to build a $650 million waste-to-energy plant in Arecibo, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico, Energy Answers is moving closer to its goal. But roadblocks remain, including one serious enough to challenge the project’s financial viability.

Despite uncertainty, EA has to date invested $15 million in development expenses and remains committed to the project, according to one of the company’s local advisers.

“All new things engender a certain reserve, an apprehension. This is something new,” said EA’s environmental consultant and attorney Rafael Toro-Ramirez referring to the incinerator that the Albany, N.Y.-based company touts as a viable solution to Puerto Rico’s waste management crisis.

Out of 28 landfills islandwide, nine have sections complying with federal standards but only two — Ponce and Humacao — are in full compliance. Seven landfills are in the process of being closed down, further reducing the island’s waste disposal capacity.

Meanwhile, recycling is minimal (under 12 percent) and the island continues to generate garbage at the staggering rate of 3.6 million tons per year.

Despite strong opposition by environmentalists, EA has passed the federal government’s permitting process and is now waiting for the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board to decide on the two most important permits at the local level.

While sailing the permitting process would be a big step forward for EA, the coast is far from clear.

If the incinerator is to stay in the running, EA must resolve key business aspects: namely, secure the needed waste stream and the water supplies essential for the plant’s operation.

For a while these issues appeared to have been resolved when, during the former Luis Fortuño administration, EA arranged with separate government agencies to have steady access to both these vital resources. EA also signed up to supply the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority with the energy the plant would generate.

Things took a different turn once the García Padilla administration came in. The favorable arrangements that EA had managed to secure were overturned and the company has found itself left without the supply guarantees that a costly investment of this kind needs to proceed.

Unless the situation changes in favor of the company, the plant’s financial viability appears to be seriously in doubt right now.

Meanwhile, opposition to the project, which began with a Coalition of Organizations Against the Incinerator, has broadened to include a wide cross-section of Puerto Rican society. Opponents include the Sierra Club and Arecibo Basura Cero (Zero Garbage), the Mayors Association, the Mayors Federation, the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Medical Doctors, and cattle farmers from the island’s north coast.

Financial viability

Puerto Rico’s first incinerator, to be built on a 36-acre lot, would burn up to 2,100 tons of municipal solid waste daily and produce 77 MW of renewable energy. The plant also would recover recyclables and up to 280 tons daily of ferrous and non-ferrous materials.

To be viable, an incinerator needs three things: a supply of waste, enough water to run the operation, and a disposal site for the large amount of ashes generated in the process.

EA says ash disposal is no problem but it can’t say the same about garbage or water.

The island produces some 10,000 tons of garbage each day of which EA would need 20 percent on a daily basis.

To secure the needed waste stream, EA needed to turn to individual townships and arrange for them to send their waste to the Arecibo incinerator.

Instead, it found an easier way out.

In April 2012, the company signed a contract with Puerto Rico’s Solid Waste Management Administration binding the agency to compel island townships to send their solid waste to the company, a service for which they would have to pay a dumping charge or tipping fee of $36 per ton.

This a higher amount than the $18 to $32 most townships pay to dispose of garbage in the island’s landfills (with the exception of a few towns that charge up to $100 a ton for this service).

Also, the tipping fee would be subject to yearly reviews with base charge increases tied to the inflation level.

Island mayors wasted no time in showing their displeasure. They complained the contract undermined the principle of municipal autonomy and endangered their budgets.

In 2013, the Puerto Rico Justice Department found the contract to be in violation of the Autonomous Municipalities Act of 1991 on the heels of which SWMA sued EA to request the contract’s invalidation. The case is before San Juan’s Court of First Instance.

EA’s Toro underplayed the loss of the waste contract, which would force EA to negotiate individually with each township.

According to Arecibo environmentalist Javier Biaggi, the decision “doesn’t stop the project… but they would have to go town by town like they started doing initially.”

That might not be easy.

The two organizations that group the island’s mayors by political affiliation, namely the Mayors Federation of the New Progressive Party and the Mayors Association of the Popular Democratic Party have expressed opposition to the incinerator. Unless there is a change in their stance, EA might have a tough job enlisting mayors to its cause.

The only NPP mayor reportedly backing the incinerator is the mayor of Arecibo. His support is said to be based on economics: By one estimate, the township stands to benefit to the tune of $2 million in yearly business license taxes (known as “patente municipal.”)

In defending the contract that EA signed with SWMA, Toro said it protects the Puerto Rican public.

“The contract guaranteed that towns will have to manage their waste legally,” Toro said.

He expressed little sympathy with mayors who find the tipping fee onerous.

“It’s not the monetary cost but the environmental cost that must be considered,” Toro said. He pointed to the future environmental costs that will be incurred from continuing to dispose in landfills that do not meet federal standards.

“Forget that the incinerator belongs to EA. It is an alternative that complies with the law,” he said.

And then there is the issue of water.

In December 2013, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources announced it would not grant EA a water franchise to draw water from Caño Tiburones’ El Vigia Pump Station despite a previous arrangement EA had worked out with the agency during the Fortuño administration.

As part of the earlier agreement, signed in August 2012, EA committed to making certain capital improvements at the station in exchange for access to the pump station.

Toro said tat out of 180 million gallons of water entering the lagoon daily, EA needs two million per day for processes and cooling.

Caño Tiburones is one of the island’s most important hydrological resources. In justifying its latest decision, DNER said the continuous extraction of water from El Vigia Pump Station would lead to “the degradation of the natural reserve’s ecosystem.”

EA has requested a reconsideration and the case is currently under administrative review. A DNER spokesperson said a public hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 25.


AE’s second attempt at establishing Puerto Rico’s first incinerator (an initial attempt took place between 1999 and 2001 under the name of Renova) is proving a drawn-out process.

The company has been pursuing its goal for eight years: according to Toro, it originally submitted the project in 2007 during the administration of Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilá.

Despite receiving a temporary air permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, it wasn’t until March 2013 that the Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit finally came through. Although opponents challenged the decision, the Environmental Appeals Board upheld the permit but instructed EPA to update the greenhouse gas emissions control requirements in the PSD permit.

According to José Font, in charge of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, the agency evaluated the project “in an impartial manner.”

Toro said EA has most of the permits it needs for the incinerator.

EQB has already approved EA’s environmental impact statement but must still decide on the air emission source permit and a permit for handling non hazardous solid waste, Toro said.

In addition to EPA’s PSD, the company has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Wetlands Mitigation Permit (requiring EA to undertake compensatory wetlands mitigation) and the Planning Board’s site permit.

Some of these permits are currently in litigation, however. According to a local environmental lawyer, challenges to the Wetlands Mitigation Permit and the PSD permit have been filed in federal District Court in San Juan and D.C. District Court, respectively.

In their petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, opponents asked the court to review EPA’s decision granting the PSD and the Environmental Appeals Board decision confirming the permit. The petition was filed July 17, 2014.


Arecibo’s WTE plant will use EA’s patented Processed Refuse Fuel technology for more efficient energy production and 30 percent less ash emissions.

Company officials have dismissed concerns over air pollution, saying the public’s fears are based on an outdated picture of waste combustion plants emitting soot and smog into the air.

Passing the intensive EPA review shows that the incinerator “is safe and complies with the strictest U.S. air standards,” officials told one newspaper.

To obtain the EPA air permit, the company had to demonstrate that its pollution controls at the plant would be as strict or stricter than those of any other plant under construction in the U.S. today, according to EPA.

For all the new technology and the conscientiousness with which the permitting agencies are evaluating the project, opponents remain skeptic about the plant’s safety.

Air and water contamination are high on their list of concerns but they also worry about the disposal of toxic ashes.

According to Biaggi, EA officials have said the plant would generate some 400 tons of ash daily but the amount could be closer to 600 tons, enough to turn Arecibo into “another Sahara desert.”

While he would not disclose where the ashes would be discarded, Toro said there are three or four landfills that comply with Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), regulating such disposals.

Opponents also are concerned about the ultra fine particles from burning materials, including organic chemicals and toxic substances such as dioxins and furans, to be released into the air by the incinerator. Because of their minuscule size, these particles are difficult to capture in pollution control devices. Fine particulates can remain suspended in the air for a long time and also travel far. Besides posing a health risk to people, these pollutants contaminate the food chain.

Lead emissions are yet another source of worry, especially since the area where the WTE plant will be located has already suffered from this type of contamination.

In 2011, EPA levied a $112,500 fine against Arecibo-based Battery Recycling Co., a lead smelter that recycles used motor vehicle batteries and produces about 60 tons of lead per day. The company, located a short distance from the proposed incinerator, committed to investing more than $3 million in pollution control upgrades and community projects.

Opponents have raised other arguments against the incinerator: It will generate far too few direct jobs and will thwart the island’s recycling efforts which the government should be promoting aggressively instead.

The incinerator will create 150 permanent direct jobs but as many as 4,000 jobs during the three-year construction period, Toro said.

In addition to investing $650 million in the plant, the company also plans to spend approximately $30 million annually in local purchases of goods and services, according to officials.

Puerto Rico and Maryland

Despite setbacks, Energy Answers appears determined to go on.

“We are going to continue defending the project,” said Toro.

To opponents, the company’s determination is a reflection of the potentially high financial rewards tied to this type of investment.

According to one estimate, the incinerator stands to generate more than $100 million per year in annual revenue from waste incineration, biomass energy production, and recovery of recyclables and ferrous (iron) and non-ferrous scrap metal.

In addition to its Puerto Rico venture, EA currently is building the nation’s second largest WTE incinerator in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore. The $1 billion plant would have a capacity to handle 4,000 tons of waste daily.

As in Puerto Rico, it has generated stiff opposition.

The project was recently halted when Maryland state authorities issued a temporary work stoppage order over the company’s failure to purchase emissions reductions credits (ERC) required as part of restrictions placed on its air quality permit. According to one newspaper report, the company faced $8 million in fines for failing to buy the emissions offsets.

Planning application submitted for massive Deeside incinerator plant.

incinerator plant

The American-owned firm behind the Parc Adfer waste treatment facility has submitted its planning application to Flintshire County Council.

Energy-from-waste specialist Wheelabrator has submitted plans for its proposed 200,000 tonnes per year capacity incineration plant on the edge of Deeside industrial estate.

The company was named as the preferred bidder for a 25 year contract to treat household waste on behalf of North Wales Residual Waste Treatment Project (NWRWTP) – the five council partnership which includes Flintshire, Isle of Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.

The firm hopes that planning consent could be granted during the first half of 2015, allowing construction work to commence late in the year.

If successful Wheelabrator expect the facility to be operational by 2018, the site will the then supply waste heat through steam pipes to nearby industrial or commercial users, as well as incinerate tonnes of household waste, diverting it from landfill sites.

According to the five councils, the facility will help them towards meeting the Welsh Government target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025.

NPA and Vision talk trash over garbage incinerator

The NPA held a press conference on Oct. 2, 2014, to advocate against the building of a new garbage incinerator.

Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe is trash talking political rival Vision Vancouver for apparently doing nothing to stop the building of a new garbage incinerator in Metro Vancouver.

“[Mayor Gregor Robertson’s] plan to build an incinerator without community consultation, without transparency and without actual proven technology is an attack on Vancouver,” LaPointe said at a news conference Thursday.

But the fact is the mayor and Vision Vancouver are staunchly opposed to an incinerator and have made that position very clear to Metro Vancouver, the organization that will decide sometime in 2015 how and where to deal with the region’s garbage.

“We are completely opposed to incineration… it’s great that [the NPA] now also seems to share that position,” Coun. Andrea Reimer said Thursday, adding it’s “frustrating” that the NPA hasn’t come out with any new policies.

Council voted in 2013 to consider using a piece of property at the foot of Main Street and Kent Avenue South for a waste centre, but only if it meets strict environmental and health criteria.

The city’s website states it “does not support garbage incineration facilities, and would not allow the burning of garbage at the proposed facility under any circumstances.”

One of the technologies the city said it would consider is gasification, which has fewer emissions and converts waste to synthetic natural gas.

But LaPointe is also strongly opposed to gasification in city limits, saying it is an unproven technology that poses environmental and health concerns.

Instead, LaPointe supports unspecified landfill options, recycling options and sorting technologies.

Regardless, Metro Vancouver has not yet chosen where to put a waste plant.

“The NPA believes strongly in fighting to keep our air clean and our citizens healthy, but Vancouver’s waste-to-energy plans are likely to generate more emissions and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere,” LaPointe says. “An incinerator or gasification plant is simply not a green option. There are significant health and environmental challenges with both options.”
He says Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver, the supposed defenders of all things “green,” are doing nothing to stop the building of a costly new garbage incinerator in Metro Vancouver and are proposing their own “gasification” plant at Main St and Kent Ave. “They have failed to defend the interests of Vancouverites.”

LaPointe says he and an NPA government will fight the plans no matter where the incinerator might be built, and instead concentrate on ways to increase reducing, reusing and recycling the City’s solid waste.
“The only thing less green than burning or “gasifying” garbage in Vancouver is using fossil fuels to ship it elsewhere for burning. We share our air with the region’s other municipalities.”

LaPointe says fiscal concerns accompany the health and emissions worries. “The construction of a new incinerator represents significant risks for taxpayers,” he says, noting its cost of construction has increased by almost $50 million to the current $517 million estimate. “Vision Vancouver’s failure to address the cost issue again demonstrates its failure to manage the City financially.”

The Burnaby waste-to-energy incinerator, which loses money annually, is expected to lose another $16 million in this year.

LaPointe says Metro Vancouver has publicly identified three potential sites for a solid waste incinerator, while six additional, secret sites are under consideration. The City of Vancouver has also proposed a gasification facility in South Vancouver and that has residents concerned.

Jay Jagpal, NPA Park Board candidate and South Vancouver resident, says: “My community is very concerned about the lack of transparency around this project, with its potential to have an impact on so many people. This is typical behaviour of Vision and Vancouverites deserve better.”

Metro Vancouver’s proposed Bylaw 280, a plan to raise costs on waste disposal, is a key step in subsidizing these plants. An NPA government would work to prevent the bylaw from coming into force.