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Sudbury biosolids plant wins national P3 award

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or, if you live in Lively, something smells rotten.
The City of Greater Sudbury and its private sector partner, N-Viro, received a national award from the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships for the city's new biosolids management plant.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or, if you live in Lively, something smells rotten.

For more than 30 years the City of Greater Sudbury has used tailings ponds in Lively, on the city's outskirts, to dispose of sewage sludge from its wastewater treatment facilities.

Residents have long complained of a foul odour emanating from the area.

That will soon change. Construction of a biosolids management facility, which will see sewage sludge converted into fertilizer, is underway on the grounds of the Sudbury Wastewater Treatment Plant on Kelly Lake Road.

When the city required an alternative long-term solution to dispose of sewage sludge, it entered into a P3 or private/private partnership with Canadian-based N-Viro Systems Canada, a Toronto-based builder of these waste management facilities.

Construction of the city’s first biosolids management facility began in the summer and is ahead of schedule, said Rob Sampson, president of N-Viro.

“We’re hoping to have the building closed on before the snow flies, which is our objective.” 

Construction will continue this winter and is expected to take up to two years. This past November, the project received a national award from the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Representatives from N-Viro and the city accepted the Chuck Willis Award for Innovation and Excellence in Municipal Public-Private Partnerships, annually given to projects recognized as outstanding in financing, service delivery, and infrastructure.

The Sudbury facility is the sixth N-Viro has built. Others plants are located across the country, from Alberta to PEI and soon overseas in India.

N-Viro will fund the $63.1 million project upfront and upon completion, the city will begin to repay the company 75 per cent of that price tag,

or $47.3 million, over the course of 20 years, the time in which N-Viro will operate the facility. PPP Canada, a special fund established to help private-public partnerships will fund $11 million of the city’s payment. The remaining 25 per cent, or $15.8 million will be covered by N-Viro.

Once in full operation, the project will create eight jobs with many more generated indirectly.

“We’ll employ about to 30 or 40 indirect employees, which includes truck drivers and other trades people who will be required to do electrical, plumbing and general maintenance repairs,” said Sampson.

N-Viro specializes in converting organic waste into fertilizer or fuel pellets.

“In the Canadian market, it’s predominantly a fertilizer market,” said Sampson. “We do this by mixing the organic waste with another waste product that comes out of the cement industry in Canada, which has a high alkaline component. When we blend the high alkaline waste material with the organic waste material, it produces a fertilizer.”

The facility will operate year-round and produce between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of the final fertilizer product called N-Rich. Fertilizer from the Sudbury plant has already been presold and will be used for mine reclamation projects. This fertilizer is sold in bulk and delivered in large quantities, but Sampson sees an opportunity in the retail market. N-Viro is considering the possibility of prepackaging the material and selling it to the retail market for public use.

If you live or work in the area of the facility, you won’t be able to tell, or smell, what is occurring behind closed doors.

“All our buildings are negative pressure buildings,” said Sampson. “You can walk around the building and hear things but it won’t smell any different than if that building wasn’t there. If you walk into that building, you will know we don’t handle roses.”

N-Viro plans on holding an open house next summer.

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