Is CHAR Technologies planning to build an incinerator in the city? That was the main question local residents wanted answered at last night’s information session on the proposed Cleantech Pyrolysis Facility in Thorold South.
“CHAR's Thorold Pyrolysis Facility is not and never will be an incineration facility,” said Galen Cranston, CHAR Technologies’ manager of community and government relations, at the start of the presentation. “We are actually different in any way to incineration companies and we will not be generating fossil and greenhouse gasses and any priority air pollutants.”
CHAR's proposed pyrolysis facility would use a heating process to convert discarded wood into renewable natural gas and bio-carbons such as bio-coal, in an effort to provide other industries with a cleaner energy source.
One of the concerns of the surrounding residents is that the used wood could have traces of chemical residue such as paint, but CHAR Technologies insist that they’ll only be using uncontaminated wood.
“The wood fibre that we’ll be using to convert into renewable energy will be equal to the quality of wood fibre used in garden mulch,” said Cranston. “We actually pay for this wood so we have to be extremely vigilant on ensuring that the incoming materials are clean.”
Another question that came up during the information session was whether or not there would be any pollution from the pyrolysis process, leading to health risks for surrounding residents.
“We’re not burning any of the input wood so we’re not creating any of the priority air pollutants—we’re not allowing flames to touch,” said the company’s CEO Andrew White, during the presentation. “We’re recovering and recycling water within our system. The water that is discharged is sanitary sewer quality.”
White also assured residents that the pyrolysis process would not create any unwanted odours.
“We’re not using any organic waste that has smell,” he said. “We’re using clean wood, no smell.”
CHAR Technologies is currently based in London, Ontario, but they’re looking to completely move their operations to the Thorold Multimodal Hub this August, where they will be able to expand their facility and create ten new full-time jobs in Thorold.
Mayor Terry Ugulini and several councillors were present at last night’s information session to learn more about the project.
“I came tonight to listen, the same as everybody else,” said councillor Ken Sentance, during the Q&A portion of the night. “I would love this technology to work. Listening to yourself, it sounds really good. I don’t really have an opinion yet. I like what you’re presenting, to tell you the truth.”
But local environmental groups still have some questions.
“I’m not really clear yet on how they can be burning gas to get the heat that they require for the system,” Liz Benneian, the chair of Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara, told ThoroldToday. “They claim that they have nothing but water vapour coming out of their stack. I’m still a little iffy on potential emissions.”
Benneian says she’s not 100 percent on board with the project, because the only data that is available comes from CHAR Technologies itself.
“What we know about the company is coming from the company,” she says. “I think it’s important that people ask questions and that the questions are thoroughly answered.”
You can watch last night's information session on the pyrolysis facility here.