Ridge council puts off PCB plant proposal

Council has put off a proposal to renovate a building on 256th Street in east Maple Ridge to allow cleaning of electrical transformers

Council has put off a proposal to renovate a building on 256th Street in east Maple Ridge to allow cleaning of electrical transformers, but the project soon could be back on the agenda.

The proposal at the Nov. 16 committee of the whole meeting was to allow cleaning of low-hazard transformers that contained less than 50 parts per million PCBs, on two lots at 14170 and 14160 – 256th Street.

That process is part of the overall operation which involves dismantling transformers and high-voltage electrical equipment and recycling the components.

Once the transformers are dismantled, the PCB-laden oil will be drained from the transformers and cleaned, allowing the recycled oil to be shipped off site for use elsewhere.

Oil is put into transformers as a means of keeping them cool.

The PCBs that remain from the process will be packaged into a doubled-walled container and hauled off site and out of the province to a hazardous-waste treatment facility, said Glenn Froese, with CHP Architects.

Froese said the property in question is in the process of being sold to the company that wants to put in the facility. A  meeting that was to be held Thursday could clarify the process and see the application return to council.

Storage and minor processing of hydrocarbons is also part of the proposal, while paint cans, solvents, batteries and oily rags will also be collected, then hauled off site for further processing and recycling. Processing of the latter won’t take place at the facility.

Any contaminated waste water will be contained and shipped out and won’t be discharged to the septic system, says a staff report.

Froese, who’s acting for the current property owner, said proper recycling of PCB-laden oil will prevent it from being improperly disposed of, or even mixed with diesel fuel and burned.

According to Health Canada, low levels of PCBs – poly-chlorinated byphenyls – are found in the environment and in foods and are unlikely to affect health. It says most health issues are related to higher levels of exposure to PCBs in the work environment or through accidents.

Froese said the two lots on 256th Street are in the process of being sold to the company that’s making the application – but the sale depends on the city amending the M2 use in that zone that would allow the cleaning of the transformers and storage of hydrocarbons.

According to a staff report, only two trucks a week will travel up 256th Street, hauling the transformer oil. But between one and three trucks daily will be arriving, carrying other materials.

As of 2009, PCBs have not been allowed to be in transformer oil. As a result, the number of transformers containing PCB’s is decreasing.

“We are now at less than 10 per cent of the PCB-containing transformer oil than we had back in the 1970s,” Froese said.

Staff say no increase in traffic is expected because the volume is similar to other properties in the industrial area.

Neighbours at a Nov. 5 information meeting, which 35 attended, were concerned about the effects on traffic, safety and the environment.

For Mal Jones, who’s lived in the area for 40 years, the proposal just means more trucks.

“Every day, we have to listen jake brakes from 6 a.m. to after 6 p.m. at night.

He’s worried that once this use is allowed, other more intense uses will follow.

The Ministry of Environment would still have to approve the project, about a six-month process.