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Company seeks to convert bottom ash to concrete

Business could employ 30 to 50 people at former landfill site


Bottom ash is a material produced by the incinerator at the Durham York Energy Centre.

By Dave FlahertyThe Oshawa Express

A Mississauga-based company is interested in coming to the region, claiming it can take bottom ash from the Durham York Energy Centre and convert it into materials such as stone and asphalt.

Don Constable, president and CEO of Greenpath Eco Inc. spoke at a recent meeting of region’s Energy From Waste-Waste Management committee.

According to Constable, his company converts bottom ash, a material discharged from solid waste incinerators such as those at the DYEC, into materials such as concrete, aggregate, and hot mix asphalt.

Constable said the material his company produces is the same strength as regular concrete but hardens faster, does not crack or shrink, and is better suited to face Canada’s harsh winters.

Greenpath Eco Inc. has been testing its product since 2008, and since 2012, has been taking bottom ash from the Region of Peel’s solid waste incinerator in Brampton.

“We’ve spent many years and monies to perfect this product,” Constable said.

The company is currently looking towards marketing its products commercially but Constable noted they do not have any customers at the present time.

They’ve purchased a former landfill site in the municipality of Clarington, which would be home to its processing and manufacturing facilities, however, Constable declined to answer when asked by committee member Wendy Bracken about the exact location.

“I’m not in the position to disclose that,” he said, citing privacy and patent issues.

However, he did state the landfill site is located 27 kilometres from the DYEC and “works for what we want to do for the next 30 years.”

Regarding the waste material currently buried in the landfill, Constable says his company will use a piece of equipment called a kinetic pulverizer to break the material down, which he said then could be used as “feedstock” to keep the DYEC’s incinerator operating at “100 per cent capacity” at all times.

“At the end of the day, we’d enhance that site back to farmland.”

It is estimated the company would employ 30 to 50 people at the site.

Bracken voiced her concerns that the products Greenpath Eco Inc. produces contain bottom ash, which inevitably contains traces of hazardous materials, such as dioxins.

“They are in there, and they don’t go away and are toxic in the smallest exposure,” Bracken said. “I’m concerned with a product that could be used anywhere. Future generations, maybe not this generation, could pay the price for that.”

However, Constable argued that bottom ash is currently used as cover in landfills and has never caused any known environmental issues.

He went to further explain the bottom ash is heavily processed when taken out of incinerators, and further processed before being used in the materials his company manufactures, rendering the concentration of hazardous materials as “minute.”

Should the project move forward, Constable says his company will assume all responsibility.

“As our lawyers have put in writing to the region, our company at the point of taking the material, we indemnify the region [of responsibility]. I’m only accepting that because I know what I’m doing.”

He also claimed there wouldn’t be anything coming into his facility that wasn’t used in their materials.

Bracken asked if the company’s studies have been peer-reviewed by scientists, which Constable confirmed.

However, these peer reviews have not been published in scientific journals but can be accessed through the company’s legal representatives.

“That’s not quite science,” Bracken replied. “You want us to support this project but we don’t have access to your studies.”

Constable said publishing the studies at this point would be counterproductive.

“The hard point we have right now is most regions have owned and operated their own incinerators, the problem we have here in Durham is it is owned by Covanta, one of the largest companies in the industry worldwide. A small company like me, to turn over its intellectual property right now before patents are public is something we are advised by our lawyers not to do.”

This did not sway Bracken from expressing her uneasiness with the proposed project.

“Are you aware that I’m aware that there are scientists who are concerned about bottom ash projects. So when you say they are environmentally safe, I’d say that is a matter of opinion because I’ve read scientific opinion to the contrary,” she said. “I just want my [fellow] committee members to understand when you say that, it’s a very broad statement.”

In response, Constable said his statements refer strictly to Canadian bottom ash, adding that he has “no knowledge of testing in the United States.”

“What I will tell you is seeing the incinerators we have in Canada and what we put into rules, regulations, and processes is obviously working.”

He praised the work of the committee members, stating it is efforts by people such as themselves that has made bottom ash less hazardous over the years.

Constable did not provide a timeline for the project but noted his company has had discussions with the region’s waste management, economic development and legal departments and were given a tour of the DYEC by Covanta.

Clarington councillor Joe Neal asked if a report about the project would be forthcoming to council, however, commissioner of public works Susan Siopis said it was the first she’d heard of it but she would follow up and provide a future update.