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Region: Ministry not needed for second round of incinerator testing

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s (MOECC) rationale for not being willing to participate in a possible second round of acceptance testing at the Durham York Energy Centre has been confirmed: the provincial entity believed Covanta had met its obligations.

In an emailed statement to The Oshawa Express, Gary Wheeler, a spokesperson for the ministry, says that when MOECC reviewed the reports on the acceptance testing that took place last year, they were content with what they saw.

“The ministry was satisfied that the first round of testing demonstrated that the Durham York Energy Centre was capable of operating in compliance with its environmental compliance approval conditions,” Wheeler says.

“The ministry did not require additional testing. The York Durham District Manager in consultation with the ministry’s technical staff determined that it was not necessary for the ministry to participate in a second round of testing.”

In late December 2015, the region chose not to issue an acceptance certificate to Covanta, the incinerator’s operator, after it was found that too much ash was produced at the site during two separate tests.

This decision came days after a closed door meeting of the committee of the whole, which along with another meeting the following month, was the subject of a recent investigation into whether they were properly closed to the public. The investigation, conducted by Amberley Gavel, concluded that “major portions of the discussions that could have been, with good planning and careful management of the flow of the meeting, been made public and transparent,” according to the investigator’s final report.

Gioseph Anello, Durham’s manager of waste planning and technical services, confirms MOECC’s stance to The Oshawa Express, saying that Covanta, the site’s operator, had met the environmental regulations with the outstanding issue being a contractual one.

Anello adds that if the region had chosen to go ahead with a second round of acceptance testing, it would have just been to test for the contractual issues as the environmental regulations had already been met, and that a third-party consultant would have been brought in in the absence of the MOECC to verify the results.