City should formally oppose waterfront gasification plant: Morrow

A lower-city councillor wants the city to come out against a proposed gasification plant on Hamilton’s waterfront that would turn garbage into fuel.
This map shows the location of Pier 15, the proposed site of a private energy from waste gasification plant for Hamilton. Coun. Bob Morrow wants the city to voice its opposition to it. (CBC illustration/ map Hamilton Port Authority)

A lower-city councillor wants the city to come out against a proposed gasification plant on Hamilton’s waterfront that would turn garbage into fuel.

Coun. Bob Morrow, who represents Ward 3, will ask his fellow councillors to support him next month in taking a stand against the Port Fuels and Material Services Inc. project on Pier 15. While the company heralds the project as the latest in green technology, other residents worry what it will do to the city’s air quality and public image.

I don’t think there’s any harm in the city expressing itself.- Interim Ward 3 Councillor Bob Morrow

Morrow isn’t sure what the city can actually do to stop the plant. But he wants to try.

“I don’t think there’s any harm in the city expressing itself.”

The proposal would see a gas plasma facility on Sherman Avenue, north of Burlington Street. The facility would use extremely high temperatures to break down waste into its atomic elements and turn it into a gas that can be used in engines and turbines and as a substitute for natural gas.

It is not the same as an incinerator, project head Robert Clark told CBC Hamilton last week.

“Air emissions would just be whatever is coming off the gas engines,” he said.

Project head Robert Clark (right) spoke with many residents at last Thursday evening's meeting about a proposed gasification plant on Sherman Avenue, north of Burlington Street. (Adam Carter/CBC)

But concern from environmentalists and residents range from the amount of oxygen the plant consumes to air quality emissions in the north-end neighbourhood already concerned about pollution.

Morrow only found out about the project last week. He’s fielded many complaints from residents, including those who say they didn’t get enough advance notice of the company’s public meeting.

“They want to be opposed (to the project) and I certainly agree with that,” he said.

Because the Hamilton Port Authority owns the land, the project may be able to bypass the city's zoning approval process. The company would need Ministry of Environment approval. 

Morrow will move the motion at a board of health meeting on May 22. Some lower-city councillors have already spoken against the project, but Coun. Russ Powers of Dundas said he needs to learn more about it first.

“Council needs to have the information before it can support a straight-out renouncing,” he said.

With files from Adam Carter

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