South Surrey residents concerned about a proposed galvanizing plant in the 18600-block of 24 Avenue say recent word on estimated emissions is “frightening.”
“It’s a major concern for the community,” said Terry McNeice, spokesperson for the South Surrey Ratepayers Association, describing news that the plant is expected to discharge more than six tonnes of emissions annually as “a complete shock.”
Ebco Metal Finishing LP is building the plant at 18699 24 Ave. City council approved a bylaw regulating the site for “light impact industry” in November 2012, following a public hearing, and a development permit was issued in July 2014.
Residents first contacted Peace Arch News last January, citing concerns with such a facility being built so close to an elementary school, as well as with the lack of public notice around it.
Last week, McNeice said the concern now is Ebco’s apparent back-tracking on a promise of zero emissions.
“The community was advised that there would be no emissions from this plant,” McNeice said. “All we’re asking them is to do what they promised to do.”
An Ebco representative said Monday that owner Hugo Eppich is on vacation and not available to speak to media until the new year.
Eppich had told PAN in January that residents need not be concerned about pollution associated with the plant’s operation and that it must adhere to GVRD emission standards.
“As far as I’m concerned… machine shops or other shops would emit more pollution than we have,” Eppich said at the time.
According to Metro Vancouver’s environmental-protection notice, Ebco plans to control emissions with two baghouse air filters, and acid misting will be controlled by chemical mist suppressants.
McNeice said he and several other residents were advised of the six-tonne emission estimate on Dec. 4, when Metro Vancouver officials notified them of Ebco’s application for an approval under GVRD’s Air Quality Management Bylaw.
McNeice did not know how the quantity compared to other sources of emissions, but said any amount is too much. (According to the U.S. EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.)
Ebco is asking for short-term authorization to discharge air contaminants for up to 15 months, and Metro offered residents this month a four-day window to submit concerns.
McNeice and others who responded named the unknown impact of emissions on the environment; an apparent downgrade in the choice of equipment that will clean emissions; that properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve deserve protection; potential impact on organic-farming status; and potential impact on the Brookswood aquifer.
Metro lead senior engineer Kathy Preston said Monday that all of the comments are being considered in Metro’s review of Ebco’s request, which was received Dec. 3 with the hope it could be granted this week.
Preston noted public notice of the approval application was not required – unlike the 30 days required with a permit application – but was done at the discretion of the district director, “since we were aware that there were concerns with respect to this project.”
She would not predict if a decision on the approval would be made this week, but did say Metro would be able to impose conditions. Those could include limits on emissions, requirements for additional studies and ongoing monitoring.
“Our point of view is that it should help clarify,” Preston said. “There’s a lot of concerns out there with respect to the potential environmental effects. It should help all of us, the public as well, better understand what some of the effects are; help answer some of the questions that we have.”
McNeice said zero emissions is the only acceptable answer.
“If the technology’s available for zero emissions, why not do it right?” he said.
Ebco is still expected to apply for a longer-term permit.