Aevitas president Byron Day said they’ll be striving to raise public confidence in the hazardous waste recycling plant they hope to build this year in Chilliwack.
The provincial government has requested more information from the company to determine if the project will “require an Environmental Assessment,” The Progress has learned.
“Due to stakeholder interest, Ministry staff have also put in place a requirement for Aevitas to conduct additional consultation,” confirmed a media relations rep for Ministry of Environment, in an email.
“A comprehensive technical review of the file will not commence until after the above information is provided by the company.”
The stakeholder “interest” referred to by MoE officials, may include the recent letter fired off by local Sto:lo leaders demanding consultation with local First Nations before the Aevitas project is approved by the province. A coalition of environmental groups, river stewards and sport fishing advocates also formed to fight the location of the proposed Cannor Road site in the Cattermole Business Park, which is 200 metres from the Fraser River.
Contacted by phone Wednesday in Brantford, Ontario, Day said Aevitas is already working hard on the latest requests for more information and consultation.
“There are letters going out today. We’re putting information packages together as we speak and reaching out to First Nations in the area.”
The problem with the site selection is there are very few industrial properties to choose from that fit their criteria. The Chilliwack site “ticked off all the boxes.”
“The part that people don’t understand is we can’t just pick up and move this project to another location,” Day said. “There are no other heavy industrial sites, that are not right on the river.”
The newly updated Aevitas web presence, as described in The Progress earlier this week, is in response to the official requests for more information, featuring a new Q&A video interview of Day outlining the 10 layers of containment planned for the site, and reasons why the Cannor Road location is actually ideal.
“We want to get the confidence level up, and we’re going to do it with accurate information,” he said.
There is still a disconnect, over some of the technical details of the project that he can’t seem to get across to critics who’ve said the proximity to the river makes the project unacceptable.
“This the most modern, small-scale facility and we’ve redesigned the entire project so the building is now two levels, and all the hazardous waste will be on the second floor.
“That means if a major flood were to hit Chilliwack, the plant would almost be the only thing left standing.”
The location is the main sticking point for those opposed, but the structure will now be built to a 500-year catastrophic level, meaning all the hazardous materials will be above the flood line on the second floor.
Critics need to take into consideration the desperate need for this facility in B.C. and the environmentally responsible work the company does.
“We were asked by industry to come to B.C. to do this work,” he said. “There is a very strong need for it, and there is just so much protection being built in.
“When it comes to these facilities, it doesn’t matter where you are located, you cannot have a spill.”
The Ontario-based Aevitas Inc., plans to recycle metal, glass and mercury from CFC lights and bulbs and recycle transformer oil for re-use and transformers.
It’s not clear yet the scope or timeframe of the consultation process they are starting, but it will include a public meeting of some sort, as well as meetings with local First Nations. No dates have been set yet.
Aevitas reps started by reaching out to local Sto:lo leaders, as well as the The People of the River Referrals office, and are planning to have an “open discussion” on about their plans for the facility, and all the various levels of protection and containment.
The letter from Sto:lo Tribal Council officials demanded a meeting with the Environment minister, citing the Tsilhqot’in decision from the Supreme Court of Canada. Their position was the Aevitas project infringes on aboriginal rights and title, and should not go ahead without their consent since the municipal rezoning process did not include adequate consultation with Sto:lo.
“We’re trying to figure out what it all means,” Day admitted.
There is a “standard” consultation process model, but it is one used for much larger projects, like pipelines, he said, which can cost $200 million, not a smaller-scale project like the one Aevitas is proposing.
It’s their 10th facility, as well as the most modern in terms of hazardous waste recycling methods.
“It’s our name on the line,” said Day. “What’s at stake here is everything that we are, and everything that we do.”