By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
An unexpected shutdown at the Durham York Energy Centre comes just a few short weeks before the site’s operator is expected to deliver its year-end report.
On Jan. 28, the Region of Durham announced that Boiler No. 2 at the incinerator was being shut down unexpectedly in order to repair a burst water pipe. However, further inspection of that boiler has lead to annual maintenance originally scheduled for March brought forward, and the other boiler shut down as well.
“After a good look at the boiler that was taken down initially with the tube rupture, there was corrosion on the inner portion of the boiler,” Susan Siopis, the region’s works commissioner, told councillors at the latest meeting of regional council.
“They found one ruptured, that’s what caused the initial shutdown. As a result of that, they’ve gone through and done a lot of testing in regards to wall thickness on the tubes inside the boiler and have decided they wanted to move up the annual maintenance so they could use the materials on site, do replacement of the tubes that were showing significant corrosion and fix it properly.”
Siopis added that, after seeing what had happened in Boiler No. 2, the decision was made to also inspect Boiler No. 1 and see if there are similar issues there.
As of press time, both boilers were still offline, with the region saying it expects several weeks before repairs are completed.
This unplanned shutdown comes just before Covanta, the site’s New Jersey-based operator, is due to hand in its year-end report for 2016. Under the terms of Covanta’s contract with Durham and York regions, a year-end report must be presented by Feb. 28, at which time the regions have 45 days to come to a consensus on how well the site operated for the year.
Based on a grading system, Covanta could receive a performance bonus as high as two per cent of the site’s total operating fee if they score 50 or fewer demerit points, through to losing two per cent of its operating fee if they score above 125 points.
Based on 2016’s operating fee of $16.452 million, the highest that could be paid out is a little more than $330,000.
According to the terms of the contract, Covanta would receive 76 demerit points – enough to void any bonuses – should there be an “exceedance of any environmental and operational aspects of any of the certificates of approval resulting in any (Ministry of Environment) fine/order/directive.”
A stack test at the site in early May found that one of the boilers was emitting more than 13 times the amount of dioxins and furans permitted under the contract between Covanta and the regions.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change had final approval of the abatement plan laid out by Covanta to get the incinerator back up and running under contractually obligated operating conditions.