Although CHAR Technologies is adamant that its proposed pyrolysis facility is not an incinerator, local residents and city councillors are not yet convinced of the company’s claims.
“Is pyrolysis another form of incineration?” asked councillor Carmen DeRose, at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. “I just want to get to the bottom of it. I think we need an independent expert. We can’t just go by what they’re saying because they have a vested interest in what they’re promoting.”
As ThoroldToday reported, CHAR Technologies wants to build a pyrolysis facility at the Thorold Multimodal Hub in Thorold South. Pyrolysis is a heating process to convert discarded wood into renewable natural gas and bio-carbons, in an effort to provide other industries with a cleaner energy source.
Thorold residents are concerned that the facility will use contaminated wood and that the process will pollute the surrounding environment, but the main concern remains whether or not pyrolysis is incineration.
The question is an important one because back in 2016, Thorold City Council passed a motion to not support energy from waste, or any form of incineration, as a viable method for municipal waste management.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, the city’s manager of economic development, Marco Marino, said the responsibility for answering the questions and concerns of residents does not lie with the city.
“Ultimately, it’s the provincial government through the ministry of environment and their experts that vet these types of companies before they can apply these processes on site,” Marino said, addressing council members.
“Council had asked for it to be taken to the region," he continued. "The region provided a letter of support for their provincial applications. If there are questions at the citizen level, my recommendation for them would be to reach out to the ministry of environment to find out and get answers.”
But councillor Anthony Longo thinks it's not up to residents to hunt for answers.
“This council asked that the regional level of government address this and I don’t believe it was addressed properly," he told council. "Now all we're asking is if someone at the regional level who is an expert can answers questions and also if the right person from the provincial level can be provided the same questions. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to navigate the bureaucracy of the Ontario government."
Councillor Victoria Wilson agrees that city council needs to take responsibility.
“I think the buck stops with us,” Wilson said. “We need to get these questions answered. I don’t know how I would feel about this being in my backyard. Somebody’s got to fight for our community and that’s what we’re here to do.”
In the end, city council decided to forward their questions to the ministry of environment and the region to get some answers about the concerns surrounding the project.