Galvanizing plant discussions get heated in South Surrey

Attendees doubt Ebco’s research that predicts no adverse effects

Opponents of a hot-dip galvanizing plant in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights packed East Kensington Elementary gymnasium Tuesday for a heated community discussion on the proposed emissions expected to be released from Ebco Metal Finishing.

Hosted by Ebco and Metro Vancouver, the event – attended by approximately 100 people – was intended to serve as a public information session and feedback opportunity.

Scheduled for two hours, the event carried on for nearly four.

Ebco’s CFO Frank Hunaus and project team member Ron Haley explained the project and findings from a recent dispersion modelling and emission test. Metro Vancouver district director of environment regulatory and enforcement Ray Robb attended and explained the application process of the project, located at 18699 24 Ave.

Of all emissions, particulate matter is said to be the most harmful.

Ebco’s latest findings – which have yet to be presented to Metro Vancouver – reported that the plant would produce an amount of particulate matter that would have no detrimental effects to plant, animal or human life.

Hunaus said the company used its environmental specialists to conduct the study for its permit application. He said the company used BC Ministry of Environment guidelines to develop its air-quality assessment approach, which Metro Vancouver approved.

“We used this data along with local meteorology, land use and terrain information to predict ambient air concentrations at a number of representative locations throughout the community. This is called dispersion modelling,” Hunaus told Peace Arch News via email Wednesday.

He said the studies indicate that the facility “can operate with no adverse effects.”

(Hunaus did not respond by press time Thursday to a question of whether Ebco or a third-party conducted the studies.)

Ebco’s research also considered the effects of air emissions on soil and surface water, he said, adding that the whole process took “hundreds of hours. It’s a great deal of work and we take it very seriously.”

Tuesday’s attendees who wished to pose a question to Ebco or Metro Vancouver were asked to use a signup sheet. A majority were not sold on Ebco’s research, with one audience member blurting out that it was “junk science.”

After Hunaus, Haley and Robb presented their information, the floor was turned over to audience for a question-and-answer period. Instead of questions, many used the opportunity for impassioned speeches about the project and Ebco’s testing.

“I’ve been sitting here for three quarters of an hour and I’m struggling for words,” area resident Frank Mueggenburg said, who was the first audience member to be given the mic. “I don’t think there’s a word in the English language, but there is one in German… It’s quatsch. Utter quatsch. Quatsch is a combination of deceit, irrelevance, garbage and running a snow job all under one word.”

Carl Thielemann, who said he lives near the plant, said he and his wife developed coughs after the Ebco was given a green light to release air contaminants March 1, 2016. The short-term permit was given a stay by the Environment Appeal Board May 26.

“She started coughing, I started coughing, our dogs even started coughing. She still has a deep cough. I’ve gotten better after all this time,” Thielemann told the panel. “Don’t try and tell me (about) all your fancy tests. They mean nothing.”

Thielemann later approached PAN and criticized City of Surrey councillors for not attending the event. He also took issue with PAN’s past reporting of the issue.

EAB’s decision to stay the short-term permit cited concerns ranging from the potential adverse effect of emissions on human, animal and plant life, to the potential impact on a food-distribution society.

At that time, the plant was expected to discharge more than six tonnes of emissions annually. According to an Environmental Protection Notice issued last month, Ebco has reduced the Surrey plant’s expected total emissions to 3.7115 tonnes per year.

Particulate matter remains the largest source of emissions, at 1.4927 tonnes (down from 2.76); other sources listed include ammonia (0.9703 tonnes); zinc (0.7464); ammonium chloride (0.2985); and chlorine (0.1493).

Those concerned with the project can provide comments to Metro Vancouver by emailing regulationenforcement@metrovancouver.org until May 18 and perhaps longer.

Robb told attendees he will take the comments into consideration based on merit, not the number of comments or who they come from.