Atlantic Power Corporation’s permit to burn more shredded rail ties has been amended by the Ministry of Environment.

Atlantic Power Corporation’s permit to burn more shredded rail ties has been amended by the Ministry of Environment.

Ministry amends Atlantic Power’s permit to burn rail ties

Atlantic Power Preferred Equity Ltd. has received an amended permit to burn rail ties at its biomass fuelled energy plant in Williams Lake.

Atlantic Power Preferred Equity Ltd. has received an amended permit to burn rail ties at its biomass fuelled energy plant in Williams Lake.

The amended permit allows for the plant’s biomass fuel to contain up to 50 per cent combined rail ties and cleaned demolition debris.

There is a 30-day period for the public to appeal.

Responding to the Tribune’s request for an interview the ministry said in an e-mailed response it is obligated to consider all permit amendment applications submitted, and decisions are made in accordance with the Environmental Management Act.

“Permit amendments are only issued after a comprehensive technical analysis of any potential harm that the proposed emission may cause to human health and the environment,” the e-mail stated. “The independent statutory decision maker issued a draft permit document and the supporting draft ministry assessment report with a 30-day period for public feedback.”

Based on the feedback received throughout the application process, including public consultation and the technical merits of the application, the decision was made to approve the amendment.

This authorization gives Atlantic Power the ability to use in their fuel supply a combined rail tie material and clean construction and demolition debris, as long as it does not exceed 50 per cent of the total fuel supply calculated on an annual basis.

Further detail on the process for applying for and obtaining a permit is available at this link, including guidance documents outlining the processes:

Ever since the company made its intentions known that it wanted to burn shredded rail ties, there has been lots of opposition from residents in Williams Lake.

Concerns range from health because of emissions, rail tie storage, ash disposal and its storage. There has also been concern raised about the amount of potable water the plant uses, which the city’s chief financial officer confirmed last week was 206,820,868 gallons in 2015, which works out to 508,098 gallons a day.

When contacted by the Tribune, Mayor Walt Cobb said he had not heard the permit was approved, but said it was news city council had been waiting to hear the results from.

“If they’ve met the standards that’s a good thing,” Cobb said. “We will now wait for the appeal process to go through to see if there are any other concerns.”

Speaking from California Thursday, Atlantic Power’s environmental, health and safety director Terry Shannon said the company hopes the decision doesn’t get appealed.

“But obviously the public and other entities have the right to appeal so it’s anybody’s guess,” he said.

The new permit allows for the storage on site of 3,000 tons of shredded rail tie material in an enclosed bin and up to 22,000 tons of whole railroad ties at one time.

“There are new limits of various kinds, and new monitoring requirements and a variety of other changes in the permit that have occurred during the course of the last year,” Shannon said. “They reflect the ministry’s desire to ensure we can burn the ties without any impact.”

Atlantic will have to install new equipment in the stack to monitor sulphur and hydrogen chloride (HCL) emissions as well as for temperature, he said.

Shannon could not pinpoint a timeline for when the company would begin utilizing rail ties.

“We are still talking to BC Hydro about extending our contract and talking to CN Rail about securing the ties and those efforts have not been completed,” he said. “We would then have to buy the equipment and install it.”

A copy of the permit is available at the Williams Lake Library or at — the authorization number is 8808.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A string made of deer hide was cut by Tl’etinqox elder Melanie Bobby (centre) to mark the grand opening of Chilcotin River Trading Wednesday, March 3. (Chilcotin River Trading Facebook photo)
New gas bar opens in the Chilcotin at Tl’etinqox

Chilcotin River Trading opens its doors

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Anti-pipeline protests continue in Greater Vancouver, with the latest happening Thursday, March 4 at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby. (Facebook/Laurel Dykstra)
A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer

The group arrived early Thursday, planning to ‘block any further work’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

(Government of B.C.)
Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

Most Read