February Meeting

scotto

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Feb 15, 2004
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This February 7th meeting of the Beach Preservation Committee will have the CEO of Liberty Energy present. Wilson Nolan will address any questions or concerns that Beach residents may have about the new sludge plant.
Place: Beach Rescue Unit Hall 316 Beach Blvd, across from the Dynes.
Time: 7pm
 

scotto

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
#2
Mac prof leads push for full assessment of sludge plant

By Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator(Feb 20, 2006)
An expert on the effect of air pollution on humans worries about what will come out of smokestacks at the proposed Liberty Energy Centre.

The centre would burn sewage sludge and wood waste to generate electricity on Strathearne Avenue in east Hamilton.

David Pengelly, an associate professor in the medical schools at both McMaster University and the University of Toronto, is one of 11 individuals and organizations -- including the City of Hamilton and Hamilton Centre NDP MPP Andrea Horwath -- asking the Ontario Environment Ministry for a full environmental assessment of the plant. He calls emission of nitrogen oxides, "an urgent matter of public health concern," especially when Liberty's own consultants say the Hamilton airshed,"has shown signs of reaching its capacity."

Pengelly also wonders if the plant is being built more to get rid of sludge than to produce energy, noting it expects to sell 10 megawatts of electricity, but will release over 53 megawatts of heat through its cooling towers.

"Thus less than one-fifth of the energy output of the process gets converted to electricity. We could get 10 MW (megawatts) of electrical power for Hamilton from almost any other source with far less pollution," he wrote in his submission to the province.

The plant's purpose is a significant issue. The developer, McCarthy Family Farms of California, is applying for approval to build a renewable energy power plant, which requires only an environmental screening. But a waste disposal plant would need a more expensive and time consuming full-scale assessment, like the one being done by Hamilton and Niagara for a possible garbage incinerator or landfill.

Environment Hamilton, in its petition for a full assessment, says Liberty Energy would incinerate more than 550,000 tonnes a year -- more than double the capacity of the proposed Niagara-Hamilton energy-from-waste plant.

Liberty Energy's chief executive officer, Wilson Nolan, says the proposed plant will be "a very small emitter" of air pollutants. He also argues that thermal power plants are inherently inefficient, whatever the fuel, but says the Hamilton plant's heat-to-hydro ratio will be within power industry norms even though it will have to use some heat in order to dry wet sludge.

Twelve requests for a bump-up from a screening to full assessment were received by the ministry by the mid-January deadline, but Community Action Parkdale East withdrew after the company agreed to sweep Strathearne and limit truck traffic in the neighbourhood.

Ministry spokesman John Steele said it's now up to the approvals branch director to rule on the remaining requests. If they are turned down, the decision can be appealed to Environment Minister Laurel Broten.

Environment Hamilton notes the Liberty Energy plant would be the first of its kind in Canada and only the second in North America. Brenda Johnson of Environment Hamilton, who flew on McCarthy's private plane to a similar plant in Minnesota, reported neighbour complaints about a burning smell kilometres away.

The organization also cited California sources that reported Liberty Energy's parent company had gone bankrupt in the late 1980s, had been accused of a water pollution offence in 1996 and was indicted for fraud over subsidies for growing cotton in the 1990s.

Nolan confirmed that a McCarthy company -- not the current McCarthy Family Farms -- once declared bankruptcy. U.S. media reported at the time it had to sell land worth over $100 million to pay debts.

The CEO denied, however, that any McCarthy company had been indicted for fraud, though he acknowledged a dispute over crop support resulted in $1.3 million being repaid to the federal government.

He also said a fish and wildlife officer had ticketed a 10,000-hectare McCarthy farm for the common California practice of adding fertilizer to water in irrigation canals. He said no fine was levied and "fertigation" continues.

"I don't think we're a bad environmental actor on the basis of that. People should see how little chemical we use and how little water is wasted. We even have a GPS navigation system for tractors so we use less chemical and seed. I take exception to us being characterized as a recalcitrant member of the community as relates to environmental ethics."

Nolan revealed McCarthy had received other violation notices for its sludge disposal and composting operations, "but basically we've got a very good environmental history."

emcguinness@thespec.com

905-526-4650
 
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