The New Brunswick government has released more details about its decision not to require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the plastic pipe factory now being built on Walker Road beside the Trans-Canada highway.
The information is contained in 132 pages of documents that the department of environment and local government (DELG) released yesterday in response to a Warktimes Right to Information request made on August 11th.
Among other things, the documents outline the commitments made by Atlantic Industries Limited (AIL) on how it will operate the pipe factory as well as the conditions the government imposed on July 21 when it notified the company that an EIA would not be required.
For example, in an e-mail to DELG on June 1, AIL CEO Mike Wilson said the factory would be using only “a small fraction” of the 50 cubic metres of water per day that would have automatically triggered an EIA.
Wilson outlined plans to install a well pump with a maximum capacity of 7.5 imperial gallons per minute.
In response, DELG is requiring AIL not to exceed a pumping rate of 7.6 gallons per minute and to provide confirmation of this to provincial officials.
DELG is also requiring the company to adhere to its commitment to transport any holding tank waste the plant produces to an approved disposal facility.
The documents show AIL is planning to offset its electricity costs by installing solar panels, but does not know yet how much power they would produce.
NB Power has a limit of 100 kilowatts in generating capacity under its net metering program that allows customers to produce their own electricity to offset their consumption while remaining connected to the grid.
An internal DELG e-mail indicates that AIL is trying to persuade NB Power to raise the limit to allow for larger solar installations and is hoping to get its panels installed next year.
For its part, DELG says AIL must generate less than three megawatts of its own electricity.
DELG says it expects “no significant air emissions” from the pipe factory after receiving assurances from AIL in response to questions about “how the plastic off-gassing process is expected to occur.”
An internal government document says that the company responded by indicating that, “Under normal operating conditions the plastic won’t be heated enough to generate any odors or fumes so the exhaust fans would be just for emergencies. Even under these emergency conditions, odors would only be released for 10-15 minutes until the process is brought back in line.”
“The primary use for this facility will be to convert high density polyethylene (HDPE) pellets into culvert/drain pipe used in various industries throughout North America,” says an AIL document submitted to DELG.
It adds that any scrap pipe will be reground and re-used to ensure minimal waste while “finished pipe will be stored temporarily in the gravel yard before shipment to our customers.”
The company says its annual peak output could reach 17.5 million pounds produced in a 20,000 square foot “shop space” with 6,000 square feet of office space “housing a projected 25-30 personnel.”
The government documents, released yesterday, show that DELG received e-mails from Sackville residents worried about the pipe factory including from members of the Concerned Citizens group that had asked town council to reconsider its approval for the zoning change that cleared the way for the AIL plant.
An e-mail from Provincial Planning Director Paul Jordan to senior officials in DELG said he had spoken to Sackville’s CAO and that although the town had approved a zoning text amendment to enable development to take place without water and sewer services, “Council didn’t approve this particular development as it is already permitted in the industrial zone that covers this property.”
Jordan adds that town council had no role to play “since the development officer has the authority to issue the development permit and the building inspector has the authority to issue the building permit. Therefore, Council cannot stop the project which is what the people are requesting.”
Jordan’s e-mail adds that if town council did decide to intervene, it would risk being sued by the company.
“As this is a private development on private land, Council is no[t] obligated to provide any information to the public. As this is a new business with local competitors, the company wishes their business plans to remain confidential.”
Jordan concludes by pointing out that members of the public do have an opportunity to appeal the issuance of a development permit to the NB Assessment and Planning Appeal Board.
To view the building permit for the pipe factory, click here.
To view the development permit, click here.
Note: The NB government sent the documents to Warktimes in electronic form with some redactions (blacked out information). To read the cover letter explaining the reason for the redactions, click here. To read the documents themselves, click here.