Northumberland chapter against proposed gasification plant

The Northumberland chapter of the Council of Canadians is against a proposed Entech-REM gasification facility in the ghost-town of Wesleyville within the municipality of Port Hope, Ontario given their numerous concerns including it would release chemicals and microscopic particulants into the air and eventually into the water.

Gasification is a controversial high-temperature process - defined as incineration by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment - that uses oxygen and/or steam to convert the carbon-based materials in waste into a synthetic gas fuel. The Port Hope plant could process up to 540,000 tonnes of garbage a year, even though Port Hope produces less than 5,200 tonnes of municipal waste per year, and all of Northumberland County combined produces less than 35,000 tonnes of waste per year. The vast majority of the waste would be trucked from a 100-kilometre radius to the facility.

Northumberland Today reports that the concerns raised by the chapter and the Port Hope Residents for Managing Waste Responsibly did not result in Northumberland County Council taking action. Chapter activist Colm Maher says, "It's unbelievable they'd hear this kind of message and not take any action. I'm dumbfounded."

Maher says parts of Peterborough County and Quinte could be adversely affected by the gasification plant. The article notes, "The health and environmental concerns of the two groups has already been presented at Hamilton Township Council and presentations have been set for April 1 in Trent Hills, April 13 in Cobourg and April 15 in Cramahe Township."

The Entech-REM application for a Certificate of Approval is now before the Ministry of Environment.

The North Carolina-based Blue Ridge Environment Defense League says, "Gasification shares many characteristics with incineration. At high temperatures used in incineration and gasification, toxic metals including cadmium and mercury, acid gases including hydrochloric acid, and ozone-forming nitrogen oxides are released. Also, dioxins and furans are created in the cooling process following the burning of ordinary paper and plastic. These poisons are dangerous at extremely low levels and modern pollution control devices do a poor job of reducing these emissions into the atmosphere. Some including mercury and dioxin are persistent and bioaccumulative; they resist breakdown in the environment and are concentrated in the food chain."

The Greenpeace International statement of opposition to pyrolysis and thermal gasification can be read here. Various news reports over the past month have noted various concerns about proposed gasification plants in Las Vegas, USA, Wirral, England, and Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Northumberland chapter's petition against the gasification plant can be found here.