The Municipality of Meaford has scheduled January 10, 2012 as the date for a public information session about the proposed waste to energy facility that has caused concern for a number of Meaford residents.
The meeting date was announced by Mayor Francis Richardson following a passionate deputation to council by resident Jenean Lush, who warned council of the potential health effects such a facility could have on the residents of Meaford.
Lush ended her presentation by providing every member of council with an email from Paul Lemieux of the American Environmental Protection Agency.
In that email, Lemieux disputes claims made in the initial presentation to council by Partners Energy Group (PEG) that stated that “This technology known as the CatOx Gasification Unit has been successfully tested and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, report number EPA/600/R-08/127,” and that “The EPA concluded the Brookes Gasification Unit produced virtually ZERO Emissions, in conjunction with and approved for use by the United States Department of National Defense, United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Homeland Security.”
“The EPA do not approve for use,” informed Lemieux in the email. Lemieux said that he was not familiar with the company PEG, though the unit that the EPA had tested was the same Brookes gasification unit that PEG had presented to Meaford's council.
Lemieux also said that the results of their own testing of a prototype unit could not be used to support the proposed project in Meaford as they have not tested the unit with municipal solid waste.
“There is a significant difference between processing dead animals and processing municipal waste,” wrote Lemieux, “I don't believe that you can extrapolate the test results from one feed to another feed and have it mean anything.”
As for the claim in the PEG presentation to council that their gasification technology results in “virtually zero emissions,” Lemieux who holds a PhD in chemical engineering offered some clarification.
“The transportable prototype that was built had low emissions, not zero emissions. This unit had no pollution controls, which greatly simplified its operation as an emergency response asset. For a fixed facility however, especially burning municipal solid waste, flue gas cleaning equipment would be needed. They don't mention this in their literature. MSW has components that aren't found in dead animals, like metals, chlorine.”
“The technology we tested was a transportable gasifier for animal carcasses for agricultural emergency response,” wrote Lemieux, “The transportable prototype that was contracted for and built was designed for 25 tons per day of feed. We were only able to achieve about 8 tons per day. There were design flaws that limited this.”
Lemieux also warned that based on their own testing, the gasification equipment proposed by PEG to Meaford is not ready for full scale use.
“My impression is that they want investors not customers. I am a proponent of this technology – we are pursuing design modifications on our prototype to improve its throughput and operation. However, if our prototype unit is representative of what they are proposing, then the technology is not ready for prime-time,” offered Lemieux.
When asked by Lush if he still felt comfortable with moving forward with the proposed WTE project, Mayor Richardson said that all concerns about the proposed project would be discussed at the public meeting.
“You have done an incredible amount of work,” Richardson told Lush, “We are going to be looking into those (questions), we are going to be getting answers. And in order to do that, we have in fact set the date (for a public meeting). We are going to be having this information session on January 10th.”
That meeting will take place at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre at 6 pm on Tuesday January 10, 2012.
In a press release issued Tuesday, the municipality said that the session will include a presentation by Kevin Alexander of Partners Energy Group.
That presentation will provide information about the overall project process and approval requirements, the technology proposed for the project including environmental considerations and the proposed business relationship between PEG and the Municipality of Meaford.
“We understand that there are significant questions and concerns in the community about this project. Council has asked me to arrange a public information meeting and I'm pleased that we're able to respond with this information session early in the new year. I hope we have a very large turnout, so that everyone in Meaford has a chance to learn more about the project,” said Meaford's CAO Frank Miele in the press release.
Also in the press release, Kevin Alexander of PEG said that he is looking forward to the public meeting.
“I'm very much looking forward to this session. We at Partners Energy Group are very confident in the technology being proposed for this project, but I recognize that we have to do a better job of providing enough information that people in the community can make an informed judgement for themselves. We're committed to ensuring that any and all questions about the project are answered at the session,” said Alexander.
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