Alternate sewage proposal for regional plants, gasification rejected by director

The director of Greater Victoria’s sewage project is throwing cold water on an alternate proposal for regional plants and gasification that would handle garbage and kitchen waste.

Albert Sweetnam said gasification, the process of heating waste to produce gases, has been around for some time but remains “an industry in its infancy” limited to small projects mainly in Japan and Europe.

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“It’s still something people are looking at and researching and trying to develop,” he said Friday.

“As an established municipality or region, we’d not really be looking at this because it would not fall under what we call proven technology. For us, proven technology is defined in a couple of ways: one, is it’s been around at least five years, and the other is it’s been operating at the type of volumes we’d expect.”

The Sewage Treatment Action Group pitched the idea Thursday, gaining the support of Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver.

The group proposed up to 15 small tertiary-level sewage treatment plants at existing Capital Regional District pump stations, and a gasification plant at Hartland landfill that would handle sewage sludge, garbage and kitchen scraps.

The plants would offer a higher level of sewage treatment than what is planned by the CRD, and the gasification plant would allow many types of waste to be dealt with at one facility, proponents of the alternate plan say.

“There is no land at the existing pump stations,” said Sweetnam, who said the idea has previously been examined by CRD staff.

“Even if you were fortunate enough to find land throughout [the CRD] for these plants, you still have to truck the sludge somewhere similar to Hartland, and you are talking about 31 major tractor-trailers full of sludge on the road every day. That’s quite significant.”

The CRD’s civilian commission is willing to look at any companies that bid on the Hartland sludge facility and propose gasification technology, Sweetnam said, but they would need to prove the technology works at the scale proposed and has a track record elsewhere.

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