Horwath renews call for full EA of Hamilton gasification plant after report warns of inadequate review

HAMILTON — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath renewed her call for a full Environmental Assessment of the proposed gasification waste-to-energy plant for Pier 15, after a report by WSP Canada warned that the project “may not have been appropriately assessed.”

“All the assumptions, all the projections, all the precautions proposed for this unproven technology were based on one tiny pilot project in England. The Pier 15 waste plant will be orders of magnitude larger than anything that currently exists.” said Horwath. “This energy-from-waste plant will have a huge unknown environmental impact, but Hamilton’s environmental protections are being determined based on little more than a science fair project.”

The WSP Canada report noted that the plant would be "the first commercial implementation of this type in the world … there is no similar scale operational system using this technology.” The report questioned whether “sufficient monitoring and/or mitigation measures have been identified,” and urged a more detailed environmental review.

Horwath repeated her demand that the provincial government conduct a full, individual environmental assessment of the waste plant proposal, rather than the less-rigorous “environmental screening” process normally used for routine and uncontroversial projects.

Last November, Horwath rose in the Legislature to ask environment minister Glen Murray whether he would require an full environmental assessment of the project. Murray shrugged off the question, saying “of course there will be an environmental assessment.” Then Murray praised the Hamilton Port Authority, which is championing the waste plant project. The minister has not made any effort to verify the adequacy of the environmental screening process.

“This latest report proves that Minister Murray needs to wake up and take this issue more seriously,” said Horwath. “Hamilton needs a full environmental assessment now.”

 

November 4, 2014

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

Dear Minister:

I am writing in regard to Port Fuels & Material Services’ proposed energy-from-waste facility at Pier 15 in my riding of Hamilton Centre. The submission of a Draft Screening Report to the Ministry of the Environment with respect to the proposed facility was submitted on October 16th, 2014.

I share the concerns of many of my constituents with regard to your Ministry’s self-assessment process for a project of this scope and size. Notwithstanding the proponent’s assertions regarding the potential benefits of recapturing energy from waste serious questions remain regarding these technologies.

For example, what is the nature of the air emissions produced by the plant and what harm might these emissions cause? Given that Hamilton’s airshed is already overburdened with pollutants, what impact on overall air quality will additional emissions from this facility have? What waste other than Plasmarock, if any, will be produced? What assurances, if any, are there that hazardous materials will not be processed at any time at this proposed facility? And what kind of proactive monitoring will take place to ensure this does not occur. If the proposed service area is beyond Hamilton’s borders, how will the impact of transporting the waste through our community be measured, monitored and mitigated?

Minister, I urge you, upon receipt of the Environmental Screening report, to order a full individual environmental assessment for this proposed gasification plant in order that all available environmental protections and rights are afforded to the residents of Hamilton.

Sincerely,

[original signed]
Andrea Horwath, MPP