The provincial government is promising a thorough environmental assessment process before approving any waste-toenergy plants.
Environment Minister Terry Lake announced recently that legislative amendments would be made to ensure all WTE projects in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, regardless of scope and size, are subject to a full and objective environmen-tal assessment. Under the current regulation, a WTE facility has to burn more than 225 tonnes a day to trigger an environmental assessment.
"We know air quality is a critical issue for citizens from Vancouver to Hope," said Lake. "Our government wants to assure them that any solid waste management project that burns municipal waste is subject to a full environmental assessment in addition to a number of authorizations, which can vary depending on the size and scale of the facility."
Last year the province approved Metro Vancouver's new Solid Waste Management Plan, which includes constructing waste-to-energy facilities, either within the region or outside.
However, the Fraser Valley Regional District voiced strong opposition to waste-to-energy facilities in the Lower Mainland, citing concerns about the valley's air shed.
It's not clear if the latest announcement by the province, along with the valley's opposition, will impact a proposal to built a WTE facility at the Tsawwassen First Nation.
Aquilini Renewable Energy, owned by Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, is part of the privately-held Aquilini Investment Group that's been working with the TFN on building a plant at the First Nation.
The TFN's new industrial master plan has 30 acres designated as "energy park" with the idea of constructing such a facility.
If proposals to build a plant in the Lower Mainland are scuttled, competing bids from outside the region would have the inside track.
One of those bids comes from Gold River on Vancouver Island, which has been working with New Jersey-based Covanta Energy Corp.
A site has already been selected at a former pulp mill in the area.
Covanta is a major player in the waste-to-energy business, owning dozens of plants and having global expansion plans.
Whatever location is chosen, Metro Vancouver has already been looking at the most up to date technologies around the world.
A couple of years ago, Delta councillor Scott Hamilton, a member of the region's waste management committee, was part of a delegation that toured Sweden to get a first-hand look at its waste-to-energy facilities.
Following the tour he told the Optimist it was an eye-opener when it came to learning about the latest technologies.