Sackville’s fire chief says he’s “very confident” his department could put out a fire at the planned plastic pipe manufacturing plant and storage facility at 318 Walker Road near Exit 500 on the Trans-Canada Highway.
“I am very confident in the ability of our members for fire suppression, our members are well-trained in fire suppression,” Chief Craig Bowser said last night during the Sackville Town Council meeting.
“They’re fully trained in self-contained breathing apparatus and all the foam agents that we use in fire suppression as well,” he added.
Bowser was responding to questions originally raised last week by residents of the Walker Road area who pointed out that the nearest fire hydrant is nearly two kilometres away from the plastic pipe factory that Atlantic Industries Limited (AIL) is planning to build.
Environmental engineer Bonnie Swift warned then that fires associated with combustible dust explosions at plastics factories are extremely difficult to extinguish and require specialized training and equipment to fight as well as water and chemicals.
At last night’s meeting, the fire chief said that aside from the training Sackville volunteer firefighters have received in the use of breathing apparatus and foam, they would also have thousands of gallons of water to fight a plastics fire.
“In our fleet of apparatus here at the station, we have a tanker that’s a 2500 gallon tanker,” he said.
“We have the same resource of 2500 gallons in Memramcook and we have another resource of 1800 gallons with the Amherst Fire Department,” he added.
Bowser said Sackville Fire & Rescue could also call on firefighters in Dorchester and Point de Bute “to assist in the water shuttle.”
When asked how much plastic pipe and other materials would be stored on the AIL site, the fire chief said he did not know.
“To date, I do not have that information,” Bowser said.
No permits yet
During last night’s council meeting, Town Planner Lori Bickford was asked what permits have been issued so far for the AIL site.
“To date, we have an application before us for a development permit, which would be the landscaping aspect of the property,” Bickford replied.
“So, [it’s] the storm drainage, storm management plan that’s currently being reviewed by town engineering, but that, to date, is the only application before us,” she said.
Bickford suggested that the work so far that includes clear-cutting trees, levelling the site with heavy equipment and hauling in rock, can be done without a permit.
“There becomes a certain point that the storm drainage plan has to be approved before that is complete so, if there was stuff that was done that was contrary to that, it would have to be rectified,” she explained.
So far, no EIA
It hasn’t been decided yet, whether the AIL project will require a provincial Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA.
“The Department of Environment and Local Government (ELG) is currently screening project information and no decision has yet been made regarding whether or not an EIA registration is required,” says a statement issued today by the province.
At last night’s council meeting, Sackville CAO Jamie Burke said water use could be one factor that would trigger a provincial EIA, which would include a public hearing.
Under Schedule A of a provincial environmental regulation, “all waterworks with a capacity greater than fifty cubic metres of water daily,” would be subject to an EIA. (Fifty cubic metres equals 50,000 litres of water.)
But, Mike Wilson, CEO of the AIL Group of Companies, says the plastic pipe factory won’t need much water.
In a letter to the town planner dated May 24, he writes:
The Walker Road plant will require only small amounts of water from a water well on the property. The closed loop system for cooling the process will need small amounts of make-up water required because of evaporation. The most water will be required for the office and plant washrooms for an estimated staff of 20 people.