June 12, 2006

MOE approves pilot EFW project, proposes designation of HHW under Waste Diversion Act

The Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) has approved an innovative pilot project that will generate energy from waste. Plasco Trail Road, in Ottawa, has been given the green light to construct and operate a pilot plasma gasification facility. The plasma gasification process will break down non-recyclable municipal waste that is destined for landfill to create a synthetic gas to power electricity generators.

Regulations have been put in place to clarify the standards for the pilot project and for the technology and to establish air emission limits. The company has agreed to meet limits surpassing certain provincial emission standards, including those for particulate matter, i.e. airborne dust and other particles. The project will require continuous emission monitoring, stack testing and third party inspections.

Plasco will gasify up to 85 tonnes of Ottawa's waste per day, producing 5.2 megawatts of electricity at a facility to be built at the closed Nepean landfill in Ottawa. Construction of the facility could begin as early as this summer.

In order to confirm the viability of the technology in a timely manner, the project will be allowed to operate for up to two years without an environmental assessment. If Plasco demonstrates that plasma gasification is environmentally and commercially viable, the company will have to carry out an environmental assessment in order to operate as a permanent facility.

In other waste management-related initiatives, the MOE has issued a draft regulation which, once enacted, would require the producers of household hazardous and special wastes to develop and fund a diversion program for specific materials. The regulation designating municipal hazardous or special waste under the Waste Diversion Act has been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 30-day comment period running to July 9, 2006 (registry reference No RA06E0003, www.ene.gov.on.ca).

This is the prerequisite step allowing the Minister of Environment to ask Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) to develop and administer an industry-funded diversion program for these wastes. Gemma Zecchini, chair of WDO's board of directors, welcomed the draft regulation, calling it "a very positive development, in our view. The staff and board of directors are extremely enthused about accepting this mandate from the Ministry of the Environment. We look forward to working with industry partners to develop a program that manages these wastes safely and effectively," she added.

Materials that are corrosive, flammable, reactive or toxic are considered hazardous wastes and carry the hazardous symbol. Ontarians purchase about 46,000 tonnes of common household hazardous materials annually. Any unused product, such as leftover paint, cleaning solvents and half-empty aerosol containers, ends up as waste that needs to be managed in an environmentally safe manner.

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