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Port Fuels 'confident' gasification plant will pass environmental review

Port Fuels, the company behind a proposed gasification waste-to-energy plant on Hamilton’s waterfront, says it welcomes a third-party review of the potential environmental impacts of its project.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath blasts proposed plant as 'science project'

The gasification plant is proposed for Pier 15, an area already dense with industry. (John Rieti/CBC)

Port Fuels, the company behind a controversial waste-to-energy "gasification" plant proposal for Hamilton’s waterfront, says it welcomes a third-party review of the potential environmental impacts of its project.

That comes after the city's consulting engineering firm WSP Canada sent a letter to city officials on Thursday, expressing concerns about the scale of the operation and the technology that would be used.

In particular, the letter outlined differences between Port Fuels' test plant in Swinton, England and the facility being proposed in Hamilton, which the company says would turn some 200,000 tonnes of waste into electricity each year.

We’re very confident that when people get into the technical review that there will not be an issue.- Robert Clark, COO of Port Fuels and Material Services Inc.

Robert Clark, the Chief Operating Officer of Port Fuels and Material Services Inc., told CBC Hamilton that his company welcomes the WSP Canada review and his company is already working with the consultant to address concerns.

"We’re more than anxious and willing to work with them in their review process," Clark told CBC Hamilton.

"They need to get into a little bit more detail and focus their questions," he said, noting he wouldn’t consider the document provided to the city this week a detailed report.

Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green, an active critic of the plan, said WSP's letter was another "red flag" about environmental risks of the proposed plant. He plans to use the letter as part of a city hall motion asking the province to do more environmental reviews.

Clark said he’ll wait to see what Green requests, but said the environmental screening process his company produced is equivalent to a full environmental assessment.

"We have added so much in depth to the technical reporting," Clark said.

"We’re very confident that when people get into the technical review that there will not be an issue."

Horwath blasts project as 'science fair project'

NDP Leader Andrew Horwath also called for a full environmental assessment on Friday, after the WSP letter was made public.

"All the assumptions, all the projections, all the precautions proposed for this unproven technology were based on one tiny pilot project in England," Horwath said in a news release.

"This energy-from-waste plant will have a huge unknown environmental impact, but Hamilton’s environmental protections are being determined based on little more than a science fair project."

Clark said Port Fuels will continue to follow guidelines laid out by Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. There is also set to be some level of federal oversight, he said, as Pier 15 is land controlled by the Hamilton Port Authority, which is governed by the Canada Marine Act.

"We are following exactly the requirements," he said.

Clark said he’s hopeful WSP Canada’s full review won’t take long because the data is already in place.

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