Letters: Decision to purchase biomass plant well researched and thought out

I wondered why a company would buy a biomass plant when the fuel to operate it was in decline.


I wondered why a company would buy a biomass plant when the fuel to operate it was in decline.

I thought that the company surely did not do its research or it would know that the lumber industry is in its sunset years. I then read Decision No. 542-R-2000 from the Canadian Transportation Industry.

The case was brought before the transportation industry by CN Rail who was wanting to salvage 45.8 miles of their Cudworth line in Saskatchewan.

CN stated that at the time (2000) the cost to dispose of rail ties was $5.00 a tie. At that time the Province of Saskatchewan’s Municipal Refuse Management Regulations stated: “that any material treated with hazardous wastes cannot be disposed of at waste disposal grounds.

As creosote is classified as a poisonous liquid and an environmentally hazardous substance, creosote impregnated railway ties could only be disposed of at facilities that are equipped to handle industrial hazardous waste which do not exist in Saskatchewan.”

CN argued that there were very limited options for disposal… “the most feasible solution and the only environmentally acceptable option is to transport ties to a site where they can be safely incinerated.

The respondents have identified three facilities, two in British Columbia and one in Quebec. As the costs to transport the railway ties to Quebec is prohibitive, the respondents have estimated the costs based on the facility located in Williams Lake, British Columbia.”

A light went on in my head, my feelings are now, and I can be wrong.

Atlantic Power did do its due diligence and knew that Williams Lake was already designated as a toxic tie disposal site.

It didn’t matter that the supply of forestry fuel was in decline as there was an unlimited supply of rail ties that CN had to pay to get rid of.

The acquisition of the biomass plant was not an ill fated poor business decision, rather a well thought one.

It already had permission from the Ministry of Environment for 5 per cent ties all it had to do was to get it increased to 50 per cent.

The discovery that Williams Lake’s reputation as an industrial hazardous waste disposal site comes with questions.

Who allowed this?

How did this happen without the knowledge of the citizens?

How can a company’s bottom line dictate the identity of a community?

Is this what we want?

Kim Herdman

Williams Lake