Waste-to-energy fears persist among residents

City accused of being secretive about the process, as regional district announces public consultation

Confusion and suspicion continue to surround the city’s pursuit of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incineration at the former Catalyst Elk Falls mill site.

One opponent of the WTE proposal, Corinne Matheson, accused the City of Campbell River representatives of being secretive about the whole concept.

“We’re trying to get information and they’re just hiding,” Matheson said. “They don’t want us to know what’s going on.”

But Coun. and mayoral candidate Ziggy Stewart said nobody is being secretive. There were three phases identified in this process and the next phase is the public consultation process.

“There are no secrets,” Stewart said. “There are no back door deals.”

In a draft report to the regional District’s Solid Waste Management Board prepared by AECOM Canada Ltd. of Burnaby, and presented to the board Nov. 3, the company identified four options for further consideration as a result of “growing interest in WTE as a potential resident waste management option.” WTE was reviewed in less detail in an earlier report last spring but it was given more emphasis in the report presented to the board’s Nov. 3 meeting.

Then on Thursday, the Comox-Strathcona Waste Management issued a press release saying the plan is moving onto the public consultation phase which will begin in the “first quarter of 2012.”

A component of the draft plan includes recommendations for disposal of residual waste and summarizes the following options:

  • One regional landfill in the Comox Valley.
  • One regional landfill in Campbell River.
  • Two regional landfills, one in the Valley and the other in Campbell River.
  • Waste to energy.

Curiously, the press release says that in the draft solid waste management plan, using the Catalyst paper mill’s Elk Falls location as a “mass burn” incinerator or a landfill is not (their emphasis) part of the recommended waste disposal options being considered by the regional waste board. However, it has been identified in the regional district’s sustainability strategy as possible alternatives to landfilling waste in the future. For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Mirror.

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