Synfuel Technology Inc. encountered resistance when the public had a chance to voice their concerns over the development of a $230-million power plant in Thunder Bay.
The concerns relate to Sec.5 of Ministry of Environment regulations. Two objections were filed with one of the two parties withdrawing soon after. The other party, which Robert Van Patten, president of Synfuel Technologies Inc., would not disclose, wanted assurance that the Ministry of Environment was following the inspection processes.
“(The other party) is not objecting to the plant,” Van Patten says, “He just didn’t understand that we did 18 months of work on what we call an environment assessment.”
Jack Gibbons, chair of the Ontario Clean Alliance Coalition, says “there is a loop hole in the existing environmental assesment, which exempts petro coke projects from the environmental assesment process.”
However, he expects Leona Dombrowsky, minister of environment, to close the hole, thereby instituting a full environmental assessment review where companies like Synfuel will be required to provide scientific evidence on greenhouse gases, cancer-causing heavy metals, mercury, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
Once the party is satisfied and the information proves credible, engineering plans will begin immediately, followed by construction of the plant in the spring.
The provincial government will be in touch with Van Patten in the near future, and, depending on what the requests are, Van Patten has 30 days to respond.
Several companies, primarily focused on pulp and paper, are interested in the development of the hydro plant, along with Fort Frances, Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay.
Van Patten says the company’s mandate was to offer continuous power at a relatively fixed rate.
The supply, transportation, construction and technology contracts have been in place and finance has been approved to build the plant on Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay. There will be potential to expand into a 500-megawatt station providing 350 megawatts of electricity to Michigan and Illinois States, he says.