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Canucks owner takes a shot at waste-to-energy game

*this article was updated on Wednesday, August 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

An industrial waste recycling plant proposed for a small West Kootenays town is drawing criticism from environmental groups who are concerned about similar projects in the Lower Mainland.

Zero Waste Vancouver, with support from the Wilderness Committee, are holding a public meeting in Christina Lake this Thursday to raise awareness about the project.

The group, with help from U.S. waste management expert Paul Connett, has campaigned against waste-to-energy plants in British Columbia. Last January, the Metro Vancouver regional board voted to focus on these facilities as part of their solid waste management strategy. Six plants have been proposed for the Lower Mainland.

However, the Christina Lake project is different.

It will target "oily rags and debris from the paint industry, aerospace industry, electronics industry and oil and gas industry," according to a proposal from the project's proponent, Aquilini Renewable Energy.

The first phase of the project proposes to recycle these products for use in other industries, and the second phase will focus on "technology which will generate 10O% reusable and recycled synthetic gas, aggregate solids, and reusable metals. The synthetic gas produced can be utilized for the generation of electricity, or further refined into ethanol, methanol, and hydrogen which can be sold on the open market," states the report. As much as half of the waste would come from Alberta's oil and gas industry.

The project has locals worried about impacts to the environment -- and real estate values. Properties in the resort community sell for upwards of a million dollars.

At this point, the project is still in the early stages. Although it's not in the purview of the regional district because it doesn't use municipal solid waste, the local government is responsible for zoning decisions concerning the project.

Donna Dean, a board planner, said Aquilini submitted an application to re-zone industrial land in October, 2008.

"There wasn't a whole lot of information that was in it," Dean said. "We decided to defer decision-making until the proponent submitted more information and had public consultations."

Aquilini Renewable Energy president John Negrin told The Tyee that the company is looking at technology that could produce is a mixed diesel fuel.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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