Mary Forbes (from left) and Frances McCoubrey Williams Lake ask questions of Atlantic Power’s environmental manager Terry Shannon (second from right) and independent consultants Bart Koppe

Mary Forbes (from left) and Frances McCoubrey Williams Lake ask questions of Atlantic Power’s environmental manager Terry Shannon (second from right) and independent consultants Bart Koppe

Atlantic Power’s draft permit up for comment

The public has 30 days from June 22, 2016 to respond to a draft amended permit for Atlantic Power Corp.

The public has 30 days from June 22, 2016 to respond to a draft amended permit for Atlantic Power Corp., which includes storage and burning of rail ties as fuel for its biomass-fuelled electricity generating plant in Williams Lake.

That’s what the 100 people who attended an open house at the Gibraltar Room Tuesday evening learned.

In 2015, the company announced it was proposing the burning of rail ties to blend with residual fibre from wood processing plants in the area, as its contract to supply electricity to BC Hydro expires in 2018.

In its discussions with BC Hydro, Atlantic Power said it needs to ensure it has a stable and secure supply of fibre, and with the Allowable Annual Cut being reduced, it thinks that might be a problem.

The draft amended permit issued by the Ministry of Environment stipulates that un-shredded rail ties must be contained in an area separate from the clean biomass and protected from precipitation and storm run off and a maximum of 3,000 tons of shredded rail tie material may be stored on site at any one time, but it must be in an enclosed bin, protected from the elements.

And any fugitive odour and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions with the city’s boundary from the transport, storage and processing of rail tie feed stock must be suppressed and controlled.

Prior to acceptance of the rail tie material at the Atlantic Power site, the company must prepare, implement and maintain a revised fire prevention and control plan, certified by a qualified professional.

The company will also have to update its storm water and effluent management plan.

Williams Lake resident Mary Forbes asked Atlantic Power’s environmental manager Terry Shannon if the company will be paid to take the rail ties.

“Are you going to release that information to the public?” she asked.

Shannon said so far there have been no discussions  about price, volumes or what CN can deliver.

“We still want to stay in business whether we are burning railway ties or if BC Hydro will allow us to burn roadside logging debris, which they won’t,” Shannon said.

“But we have to have the permit in place before we can negotiate a price for railway ties.”

Forbes suggested Atlantic Power form a community liaison group such as Gibraltar Mine has, to share information with the public.

“Atlantic Power would meet with this community group of loud mouth environmentalists that would be interested in making sure you do what you said you were going to do, for example let us know what the dioxin levels are,” Forbes said.

Shannon encouraged Forbes to e-mail him a request, adding Atlantic Power is part of the existing air quality roundtable in the city.

The draft permit, the draft Ministry Assessment and other relevant documents may be viewed at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/sitepermitting-compliance/atlantic-power.