Meeting on plans for biosolid waste set for Highland Creek - Scarborough Mirror

By Mike Adler

Scarborough Mirror, Nov 13, 2015


The Highland Creek Wasterwater Treatment Plant and how to deal with biosolid waste at the facility will be disussed at a community meeting on Nov. 19.

Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has 100 tonnes of new biosolid waste each day, and whatever the city decides to do with it will leave some people unhappy.

That’s a sure bet after years of consultations and close city council votes that haven’t settled the question.

The latest twist in the sludge saga is a Thursday, Nov. 19, public meeting which ought to reveal how a city study scores the possible choices: burn it, turn it into pellets or simply truck it away.

Residents living near the Beechgrove Drive sewage plant have long called for the city to replace its aging incinerators with more modern ones.

But though incineration was the recommended choice, Toronto Council in 2011 voted for “beneficial use,” which would see the plant’s sludge trucked away for sale as fertilizer or, if unwanted, deposit in a landfill.

Supporters of incineration, who maintain the preferred solution was “highjacked” when it reached council, convinced the province a new environmental assessment was needed.

This time, building a facility beside the plant to turn the sludge into pellets is a third choice.

The city says each choice involves some trucking of waste.

Building new incinerators would require ashes to be hauled from lagoons by the plant “over a one to two week period” each year, while pelletizing sludge would requires one or two trucks, five days per week, all year.

Hauling the sludge away would be done in four to six trucks, five days a week, heading through the community to Hwy. 401.

Toronto’s Board of Health, which did a Health Impact Assessment of the three alternatives, said health effects from each would be “very small,” and added there are no “appreciable differences” in risk between them.

Each would signficantly cut air pollution compared to the plant’s existing 38-year-old incinerators, the board found, but while the new incinerators are “anticipated to result in the highest releases of air pollutants,” hauling away the sludge or pellets will increase risks related to “safety, odour and noise.”

After study, the board also recommended a route using Port Union Road to haul materials away from the plant.

Next Thursday’s meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion branch on Lawson Road starts as an open house at 6 p.m., with a presentation at 7 p.m.

A city newsletter on the consultation states each alternative was scored on how well it could minimize possible effects on health, environment, community and cost, and that “these results will be presented” at the Nov. 19 meeting.

Scarborough East Councillor Ron Moeser noted the board “is fairly neutral” on the health effects of each choice, and so he’s hoping council, this time, will back the incineration solution his constituents prefer.

But he noted that past votes were close and “there’s at least 18 (councillors) there, that no matter what, they won’t support incineration,” even though the proposed burners use a different process than those at the plant now.

Heather Marshall, toxics campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said many people in Scarborough have expressed concern about continuing incineration at the plant.

“Incinerating does lead to fewer trucks than the alternatives, but it’s also leading to higher health risks,” she argued this week.

Marshall also said one or two trucks a day carrying pellets doesn’t seem that much, considering there is other truck traffic coming through the community.

“Trucking a dry, stable product should lessen concerns about spillage,” she added.


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