I arrived a few minutes late to the Bio-en Community Liaison Meeting meeting on Tuesday night, by which time most of the discussion on the construction update had completed. Earl Brubacher remarked on the large number of standards bodies and regulatory agencies involved in the construction, including the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture (regulating the incoming feedstock), Department of Weights and Measures, and the Department of Labour. Earl mentioned that Woolwich Bio-en is the first biogas plant to require TSSA approval.
The lightning protection on the gas domes has created some controversy. Woolwich Bioen is the first biogas plant to require lightning rods. The controversy is whether the lightning rods will protect the gas domes by conducting lightning away, or whether they will attract the lightning and create a greater hazard than an unprotected dome. Earl said that alternative placement of lightning rods at the edge of the property is recommended by some engineers.
All the operational staff has been hired (two people), and have received training.
A tour of the plant could take place during construction, before the the feedstock has arrived. That would allow people to view the insides of the tanks. During a tour after operation has started visitors can see the process, but not the interior. The tour for Bio-en CLC members only will take place on Saturday, 1 March 2014 at 9:00am, before the tanks are filled. The tour is limited to CLC members because of the proprietary technology on display. Chuck Martin hinted at an Open House with “educational tours” sometime in the future.
There was discussion on Bio-en’s $25,000 letter of credit, which needs to be made out to a legal entity. It was felt that the CLC is not a legal entity, and that the CLC would need to incorporate in order to set up a bank account, or to set up a trust fund. It seems to me that the Community Liaison Committee was established by the arbitration settlement conducted by Province of Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, making it a perfectly legal entity already. Of course, incorporating the CLC might be a prudent move anyway, in order to hold its members harmless from any judgments against it. Robert Musselman reminded us of the Centre Wellington Citizens Coalition (opposing the Elora Racetrack), who were sued by their own Wellington Township Council for $86,000 to recover legal costs after the CWCC lost their appeal.
Bob Gray asked about landscaping of the Bio-en property. The ice storm brought down some trees so that the sight lines from residential properties now have a full view of the biogas buildings. Earl Brubacher said that the damaged trees were on the Elmira Pet Food property, but that there would be some tree planting and berming on Bio-en’s property as well.
It was discussed if the CLC should raise funds for matching the letter of credit. Woolwich Council didn’t refuse the request to provide matching funds, but didn’t contribute either. I suggested that the CLC get the costs for an odour or noise study so that they’d have a precise figure to present to Council if they go back to ask for funding.
Finally, it seems that even people in Elmira don’t know about the biogas plant, although they may have heard about it or read something in the paper. Although I think the CLC believes that to be a bad thing, they haven’t yet established a communications strategy.
The next CLC meeting will be on Tuesday, 4 March 2014.
Alan Marshall of the Elmira Advocate has another writeup of this CLC meeting.