Highland Creek residents gathered Monday night to voice their burning questions on a dirty subject: sludge.
Will the Highland Creek Treatment Plant get rid of their waste with a fluidized bed incinerator, residents wondered, or will it use rail and truck haulage instead?
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The main issue that concerned residents was that there would be 7,000 sludge trucks per year travelling along one of two proposed routes. Both routes have three schools nearby.
Resident Ingrid Beacom said she is concerned with the noise the trucks would make and that the trucks won’t be completely clean when leaving the treatment plant. She’s also worried sludge could wind up on farmers’ fields, she said.
“The next thing you hear, people will have polluted wells [and] kids are sick because they put [sludge] on the side of the road,” Beacom said. “They’ll tell you it’s not because of that but my gut instinct will be, Yes it is.”
“I’m very much against it because I don’t feel it’s sufficient as the incineration would have been had they gone ahead with it,” said resident, Betty Smith. “And I don’t think this beneficial spreading is beneficial at all.”
An April 2011 report outlined city council’s direction to change from thermal reduction (incineration) to using new fluidized bed technology. From May 2011, city staff, as directed by council, implemented a biosolids beneficial-use management strategy with landfilling as a contingency.
“I think they have got to find a solution where we get solids down by 35 to 40 per cent, and what’s left is all the clean stuff, take the waste away that’s clean and use it for fertilizer,” said resident Ray Stone.
The Highland Creek community will have to wait for confirmation of the 2012 budget in order to commence the development of a beneficial-use management strategy.
The City Council did not approve the recommendation of the Highland Creek Biosolids Environmental Assessment, which was supported by the City staff, the local City Councillor and the community, and took 7 years to complete. The solution was to install new on-site thermal reduction equipment with state-of-the-art air emission control technology.
As a result of the 7 year delay, the City has been forced to make an unnecessary expenditure of about $15 million to extend the usable life of the existing 35 year old thermal reduction equipment by 5 to 10 years.
it is not acceptable for City Council to unilaterally reject the recommendation of the EA , which was presented to the public for review in 2009, and decide to implement a different solution. The City should use the additional window of opportunity that the recent equipment rehabilitation provides, to conduct a new environmental assessment to find a solution which is acceptable to all parties.