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Referral by Order in Council

Swan Hills Special Waste Treatment Centre Expansion

Reference #: NRCB Application #9101
Applicant: Chem Security (Alberta) Ltd.
Status: Complete
Date decision issued: May 8, 1992

In a decision released May 8, 1992, the Natural Resources Conservation Board announced that it was prepared to grant approval for the expansion of the Alberta Special Waste Treatment Centre at Swan Hills subject to authorization by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Chem-Security (Alberta) Ltd. applied to the Board for approval to add an incinerator with a capacity of 40,000 tonnes per year to the existing Treatment Centre which had a capacity of 13,500 tonnes per year. The expansion was subject to review by the NRCB as a result of having being referred to the Board by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

The application was considered at a hearing on November 25-28, 1991, January 27 and March 26-28, 1992. The Town of Swan Hills supported the application because it believed the project would benefit the local economy. The Swan Hills Expansion Review Coalition, a coalition of several environmental groups, raised environmental concerns and suggested the project be delayed to allow further investigation of the need for the project in relation to possible waste reduction initiatives. A number of First Nations in the region, the Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society and the Alberta Trappers' Association opposed the expansion on the basis that sufficient waste volumes would not be available and because of its potential environmental effects.

The Board reviewed the evidence before it and determined that the project to expand the Centre would be in the public interest taking into account the social and economic effects and its effects on the environment.

More specifically, the Board concluded that there was a need for the project, and that the project was technically feasible and economically viable. The probable effects on the health of the public and of workers at the plant and on the environment would be sufficiently small to be acceptable. The applicant had a well conceived and effective plan in place to deal with emergencies, including accidental spills of material which may be hazardous. The economic effects of the expansion on the Town of Swan Hills and surrounding region would be beneficial and any adverse social effects would be minimal. The applicant would continue its extensive public consultation program.

The Board's decision contained several conditions requiring re-examination of the effectiveness of the treatment process and the potential effects of emissions if the composition of wastes delivered to the Centre in future is significantly different than that of wastes being treated by the existing facility. A further condition stipulated that the applicant could not install a heat recovery system until it has satisfied Alberta Environment that the Treatment Centre would continue to meet licensed emission limits with such a system in operation.

Recognizing that the responsibility for regulation of the construction and operation of the expanded Treatment Centre would rest principally with Alberta Environment, the Board made a number of recommendations concerning these matters to Alberta Environment, Chem-Security and others. The recommendations dealt with the origin of special wastes, operational procedures, monitoring, modelling of concentrations of contaminants in air, public and occupational health, social effects, communication with the public, periodic licence reviews and the eventual closing of the Centre.

The Board issued its approval of the application by Chem-Security (Alberta) Ltd. for expansion of the Treatment Centre after receipt of the necessary authorization from the Lieutenant Governor in Council.