Lafarge Canada Inc. has applied to the Ministry of the Environment for permits to manage noise and air pollutants that will originate from a ready-mix concrete plant proposed for Wolfe Island. The facility will produce the concrete for an 86-turbine wind-power project planned for the island.
Many island residents heard about the concrete plant for the first time this week when the ministry posted Lafarge’s certificate of approval application on the province’s environmental registry.
The permit, if granted, will allow Lafarge to emit ministry-accepted levels of contaminants, including suspended particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the combustion of No. 2 oil.
The facility is proposed to be located at 885 Highway 96.
Officials from Lafarge Canada Inc. couldn’t be reached for comment about its plans for a concrete facility on the island.
Carol Dwyre, planning co-ordinator for the Township of Frontenac Islands, said Lafarge doesn’t have a planning application submitted to the municipality for a concrete facility. She said such an application isn’t required because Lafarge is planning to operate on a site that’s already designated commercial.
“We’ve been speaking with [Lafarge], but I believe they’re already going on a site that’s designated commercial,” she said. “We don’t issue business licences so as long as they’re conducting an operation in an area that’s zoned for that use, they’re OK.”
Dwyre said from the township’s discussions with Lafarge, it’s been made clear that the ready-mix plant will be a temporary one to operate during the construction phase of the Wolfe Island wind project only.
“Once they get their approvals, they’ll be starting this summer,” she said.
The application for air and noise certificates of approval for the ready-mix concrete batching plant to the ministry consists of three pulse-jet dust collectors, one oil-fired boiler and the use of aggregate stockpiles with handling operations for associated material.
Mike Jablonicky, operations manager for the Wolfe Island wind-power site, said the firm is still finalizing the amount of concrete it will require to build the base of each of the 86 turbines and other aspects of the project.
“We have to form and pour 86 bases and we also have foundations required for the operations and maintenance facility, as well as for the substation,” he said.
The substation will take the power generated on Wolfe Island and convert it to a higher voltage before it’s transmitted via an underwater cable to the mainland.
The construction phase for producing and pouring the concrete will likely take about four or five months, said Jablonicky.
Construction on the project is expected to start in mid- to late June, but Jablonicky said everything hinges on Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen, who has the final say in the approval of the project.
Gerretsen is expected to make an announcement sometime in the coming days about whether he will grant some citizens’ requests for a more in-depth look at the project plans.
“[Mid-June] is when the first shovel goes in the ground, hopefully,” said Jablonicky, “but it’s all tentative on the minister’s decision on the [environmental review]. We have to wait to see what the minister’s decision is.”
The wind-power facility is expected to be up and running around the middle of October.
“I haven’t been told anything different – we have a fairly aggressive [construction] schedule,” said Jablonicky.
Once it’s operational, the project will generate enough power to provide electricity to a maximum of 75,000 households.
Gail Kenney, a member of the group Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment, which has had many concerns about the wind-turbine project, said residents weren’t aware until this week about the wind project requiring a concrete facility to operate on the island.
“We feel like we were broadsided … we don’t know what’s involved,” she said.
Information about the ready-mix plant proposed for Wolfe Island is posted on the environmental registry for a 30-day public comment period, ending June 25. All comments received prior to that date will be considered by the ministry.
By Jennifer Pritchett
29 May 2008
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