Hamilton

Not heard from in a year; has Port Fuels abandoned harbour incinerator project?

The company still hasn't told the province whether it will do a full individual assessment for its Hamilton plant. But there's no deadline, and even the project's opponents say they're not considering it dead just yet.

The company still hasn't told the province whether it will do a full individual assessment

Port Fuels proposed an energy-from-waste plant on Pier 15, but it has to complete a full individual environmental assessment. The province says it hasn't talked to the company in more than a year. (Port Fuels and Materials Services Inc.)

It's been more than a year since the province has heard from the company that wants to build a controversial energy-from-waste plant on Hamilton's north shore. But even project opponents say they're not considering it dead yet.

I won't be relieved until the application is withdrawn.- Coun. Matthew Green

Ontario's environment ministry ruled last year that Port Fuels and Materials Services Inc. needed an individual environmental assessment for its proposed plant on Hamilton's waterfront.

The ball is in Port Fuels's court now. But the company talked to the ministry last February, says Gary Wheeler, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. And the two sides haven't talked since.

CBC Hamilton was unable to reach Port Fuels project head Robert Clark for comment. Wheeler said there's no deadline for the company to let the ministry know.

Matthew Green, a Ward 3 councillor and project opponent, says he has a "hunch" the company didn't have the science to back up the project.

That doesn't mean he's counting it out, he said. He's seen too many issues take unpredictable turns.

"I won't be relieved until the application is withdrawn."

The issue dates back to 2014, when Port Fuels held public meetings about the proposed plant.

The project on Hamilton's Pier 15 would use a trademarked Gasplasma technology. It would turn an estimated 170,000 tonnes per year of non-hazardous waste into gas, and process another 30,000 tonnes using a direct plasma process. 

The plant would be on federal Hamilton Port Authority land and, Port Fuels says, use waste from around the bay. The company went through an environmental screening process,  a less stringent assessment which Clark said at the time should have been enough to answer the ministry's questions.

"We submitted an extreme amount of information," he said in late 2015.

Not everyone was against the project. Those who supported it said it would bring jobs and economic activity, and provide an alternative to using landfills.

Several parties wanted a full individual assessment though. That included city council and Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP leader and MPP for Hamilton Centre. The project was a source of conflict between the city and the port authority over how much say the city had over the project's approval.

As for the land, Port Fuels still has a due diligence agreement with the port authority, which acts as a hold on the space, said spokesperson Larissa Fenn. When asked about the timeline, she said it's flexible.

"Before HPA would allow the project to proceed, the company would have to complete its environmental assessment to the satisfaction of the MOECC, including all of its consultation elements," she wrote.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

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