Incineration was one of three options to dispose of wastewater sludge
But it’s not being recommended for Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Sept. 10 for Town Crier.)
If you read the draft of the biosolids treatment plan for Ashbridges Bay you could be forgiven for thinking incineration maybe coming back to the Beach.
Incineration, also known as “thermal energy”, is listed in the report as one of three possible options but officials tell the Town Crier that burning biosolids at the site is no longer on the table.
“All the options for each plant site were evaluated,” said Deborah Ross with consultant firm AECOM, which is producing Toronto’s Biosolids Master Plan. “Thermal energy ranked high, but it’s not being recommended.”
Instead, the plan is recommending the waste be converted into biosolid cake and used as fertilizer or, as a second or temporary option, sending the material to landfill. Nancy Fleming, the city’s project manager for the project said staff will add their own recommendations when the consultant’s report is finished.
She said burning the waste is not being recommended at Ashbridges for a few reasons.
“We took a look at emissions, the cost for electricity, capital costs for incineration are high (to build a facility),” Fleming said.Beaches-East York councillor Sandra Bussin confirmed incineration is a non-starter. “It is not on the Richter scale,” she said. “We are looking at removing the stacks to give greater confidence.” Smoke stacks remain at Ashbridges as a reminder of when it had an incinerator to burn sewage, she said.
While a waste incinerator is off the table for the Beach, the report is recommending the city continue to burn treated sewage at the Highland Creek Treatment Plant in Scarborough, albeit using a new form of technology called fluid bed incineration.
While many in the east end are pleased an incinerator won’t be moving in next door, not everyone is pumped about all of the options in the report.
“I think we need to phase out landfill for waste that you just can’t get rid of (in other ways),” said Murray Lumley, a resident and retired science teacher. “If the most advanced technology could be used for incineration, that could be one way of dealing with it.”
The option he prefers is the biosolid cake, as long as it’s not spread on agricultural land.
Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton told the Town Crier that residents are great at coming up with environmental solutions.
“East enders have been trying to shut down polluting sources that have been jeopardizing (their) health,” he said. “First we fought to close the abattoirs, then the lead smelters, then the Commissioner Street garbage incinerator, then Hearn generating station, then lastly the biggest stack of all the Ashbridges Bay sewage incinerator.”
Most of it happened in the 1980s when he was a city councillor and chair of the Board of Health. He said the community rallied to have these industries shut down.
“I was involved in many of those battles,” he said. “The community achieved a remarkable objective which was to think of biosolids differently rather than burn it.”
He said what to do with biosolids is a worldwide issue.
“Maybe we can be part of leading edge problem solving in the east end,” said Layton.
The biosolids master plan will go to the Public Works Committee and city council in November for approval.