Region well on its way to reaching end game in provincial plan
Eastern Waste Management is going through a provincial environmental assessment for its final, and ninth, waste recovery facility.
A map of the proposed site for the final transfer facility for Eastern Waste Management, which is still under environmental assessment.
— Image courtesy of Eastern Waste Management
The nine locations are all part of the plan for meeting the goals associated with the provincial waste management strategy. The facilities act as satellites to the main regional waste facility at Robin Hood Bay in St. John’s.
“The concept behind them has been to allow people throughout the region — because we’re servicing, really, out to Clarenville — we allow people in all the locations to have the same access as residents in (metro) have to Robin Hood Bay,” said Eastern Waste Management board chair Ed Grant.
The waste recovery facilities handle bulk garbage, as opposed to material from weekly household garbage collections.
The last recovery facility is being proposed for an area off the Trans-Canada Highway about 8.5 kilometres from Whitbourne and 5.5 kilometres from Blaketown, northwest of Peak Pond.
The rough plan for the site has been set out in a registration document for environmental assessment (EA), submitted to the provincial Department of Environment and available online. The plan is open to public comment until March 25.
“Up to now we haven’t had to do an EA because, generally, all the waste recovery facilities up until now have been put on what used to be old landfill sites, that type of thing,” Grant said.
Eastern Waste Management does not own the land near Whitbourne at this point, he added, but is negotiating for the property. Given that status and with the cost of the land unknown, he could not put a cost on the overall creation of the waste transfer facility, but said it would be in the area of several million dollars.
A few extras being planned for the Whitbourne location, to be established only after the transfer facility is operating, are expected to add to the price, if approved.
Since the property will be centrally located just off the main highway, the documentation filed with the province outlines the creation of a small depot at the site for trucks tasked with visiting the region’s various waste recovery sites.
The site may also be used as a composting test facility, though that project is still in the planning stages and not yet committed to by the regional authority.
“If it’s not there and we decided to do a test on that site, we’d have to do a second (EA),” Grant noted.
The latest report from the Office of the Auditor General detailed costs for the implementation of the province’s waste management strategy, including the creation of regional waste management boards, closure of teepee incinerators, the goal of ending the open burning of garbage and the aim to reduce waste going into landfills by 50 per cent.
The auditor general’s report was critical of timelines missed and cost overruns.
“Up to now, we’ve been pretty well spot-on on our numbers,” Grant said when asked about the report.
To March 31, 2013, according to information provided by the Department of Municipal Affairs to the auditor general, about $2.2 million had been spent on site closures in the Eastern Waste Management area alone as part of waste management strategy work. About $8 million had been paid out to that point for required studies and the development of interim disposal sites, with another $48.7 million spent on new, regional infrastructure, for a $59-million total.
Recovery sites such as Whitbourne are part of the infrastructure projects.
Other waste-management regions — there are 13 — are less advanced in their waste strategy work.
“We’ve had commitments from the province for the big one that we’re into now … the transfer station (in Clarenville), which is a slightly different animal,” Grant said. The province announced a $3 million spend on that project in July 2013.
The facility will handle household garbage and is expected to be active this summer.
“That’s the only transfer site we’re building,” he said.
“In terms of — I can’t speak to the West or Central’s costs, but certainly our costs, when we looked at it, we were well within the original numbers estimated.
“So we’re quite comfortable this facility, the one in Whitbourne, which really would finish off us, our capital costs are in line with what we had estimated,” he said.
Grant said the expectation should not be that construction of the Whitbourne facility or the others will drive up costs for individual users by way of jumps in tipping fees.
“The rates have been stable for some time and, at this point in time, we’re quite comfortable to say once we put these eight or nine facilities in place, plus the transfer station, that within the tipping fee structure we’ve now got in place, and looking forward — frankly the tipping fee structure is on the low side of what we had anticipated,” he said.
“So, so far, so good.”
Waste management strategy spending
Spending on waste management strategy for Eastern Waste Management region, by fiscal year, including Department of Municipal Affairs forecast for spending through 2020.
2003-2007 — $39,000
2008 — $782,000
2009 — $23 million
2010 — $23 million
2011 — $3.8 million
2012 — $7.6 million
2013 — $367,000
Total: $59 million
2014 — $256,000
2015 — $4.9 million
2016 — $10.8 million
2017 — $10 million
2018 — $0
2019 — $275,000
2020 — $0
Total to 2020: $85.2 million
For province to 2020: $315.8 million
NOTE: All numbers rounded and as of March 31 each year. No data included beyond 2013.
(Source: Auditor General of Newfoundland and Labrador, Report to the House of Assembly on reviews of departments and Crown agencies, January 2014.)