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Update on Steam Reformer, from the Trentonian, as published on the Safewater Group website.

Jack Le Blanc

Friday, October 24, 2003 - 10:00

Local News - The Ministry of the Environment has received six calls this year requesting information or regarding concerns over controversial $30 million Steam Reformer Technology being tested at Norampacs Trenton plant.

A caller to the Trentonian who identified herself as a chemist at QueensUniversity said she complained to the ministry two weeks ago about a smell coming from the Steam Reformer stack.

That caller said the smell was similar to that of phenols, a smell she saidshe is familiar with as part of her job. She expressed concern for the safety of her two children.

The Trentonian also received calls from two concerned residents living inthe area of Norampac on the east side of the Trent River.

Based on concerns expressed by local citizens the ministrys Trace Atmospheric Gases Analyzer (TAGA) mobile lab undertook anassessment of the emissions from Norampac during the week of Sept. 15, Belleville senior environmental officer Dan Joyner said in a written response to Trentonian questions.

The TAGA tested for excedances of the ministrys air emissions standards, he said. The test results cannot be released until they are finalized.

Norampac Trenton plant manager Marc Pépin was contacted for comment, but said he was leaving for a new job as plant manager of a Quebec paper mill.

Pépin said the decision to leave Norampac Trenton was made for quality oflife reasons. He referred the questions to personnel manager Grant Currie, who said the plant has not received any complaints about emissions to date.

Currie said the Steam Reformer Technology is currently in the commissioning stage.

Company documents say The steam reforming process converts organic matter into a hydrogen rich fuel gas. This fuel gas is inherently clean burning with water vapor and carbon dioxide being the principal products of combustion. ... An evaluation by an accredited acoustical consultant performed for the Ministry of the Environment as part of the approvals process, indicated there will be no detectable impact on noise. ...

The Steam Reformer includes extensive instrumentation and an advanced computer control system that will ensure that the system operates within its design conditions. This system will be operated and continuously manned by trained mill personnel. As part of the control system, the boiler and burner operation will be equipped with monitors that will continuously indicate combustion efficiency.

Joyner said emissions from the Steam Reformer are expected to contain levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, and low levels of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.

Monitoring and reporting of these compounds are strictly regulated. Norampac is responsible for continuous monitoring of specific parameters, reporting of malfunctions, Point of Impingement criteria excedances, and source testing, Joyner said.

Joyner said the ministry issued a certificate of approval for the installation and operation of the Steam Reformer. Norampac is required to record all environmental complaints they receive, to investigate those complaints,and to take measures to address the cause to prevent a reoccurrence.

Norampac is to report complaints, and actions taken, to the ministry within three business days.

Joyner said there have not been any ministry charges as a result of public concerns about Steam Reformer emissions.

Joyner said the Steam Reformer is operational, is being tested, but has  not yet been commissioned.

The ministry continues in its role as the regulating authority with respect to emissions to the natural environment, Joyner said. The ministry is to receive and review citizen concerns regarding emissions from the facility, and is to receive and review emissions data from Norampac and determine compliance with environmental legislation and the Certificate of Approval (Air).

The ministry approved a 39-month implementation schedule for the Steam Reformer Technology. The certificate was issued based on an engineering review of the technology, and includes specific conditions requiring testing and reporting of emissions data.

Joyner said the approval provides the company with specific testing and data submission requirements.

The Steam Reformer is to operate at a higher temperature than dirty smokestack technology, Joyner said. The Certificate of Approval requiresspecific temperatures be maintained and recording using a continuous monitoring and recording system when the equipment is operating.

Safety measures require the black liquor supply be shut off whenever the boiler is not in proper working order. A continuous monitoring and recording system is required by the certificate to ensure the boiler is in proper working order.

The ministry has established an Air Emissions Monitoring Web site for reporting of air emissions by regulated emitters, including Norampac.

The Web site provides reports and guidance on air emissions and provides a link to data collected under the National Pollution Release Inventory, which is a data base of information on annual releases to air, water and land, and off-site transfers for disposal or recycling.

The Web site address is www.ene.gov.on.ca/environet/onair/splash.htm