Just over a year after its application, R.W. Tomlinson has received an environmental compliance approval from the province for its controversial proposed hot mix asphalt plant to be located in the Town of Greater Napanee. The plant proposal is currently under review by the Ontario Land Tribunal due to the fact that Greater Napanee Town Council declared the Town an unwilling host of the plant and refused to grant rezoning that would allow it to operate.
In a notice released late on Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2023, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) stated, “We have granted an Environmental Compliance Approval with Limited Operational Flexibility (air & noise) for R. W. Tomlinson Limited, a hot mix asphalt plant located in the Town of Greater Napanee, Ontario.”
The notice goes on to explain that Tomlinson’s proposal “includes all sources at the facility that exhaust to the atmosphere,” including:
- dust silo
- hot oil heater
- crushing plant generator
- fugitive emissions from the storage and transfer of materials associated with hot mix asphalt operations
Further, the MOE explains, “emissions to the air from this facility” include:
- carbon monoxide
- crystalline silica
- sulphur dioxide
- suspended particulate matter
- products of combustion such as nitrogen oxides
“The Environmental Compliance Approval with Limited Operational Flexibility (air) permits modifications to the facility,” the MOE explained, but those modifications are “subject to limits on operational flexibility that include a production limit for the facility to be specified on the Environmental Compliance Approval with Limited Operational Flexibility (air).”
The limited operational flexibility conditions have an expiry date, according to the MOE, and the company will be required to make an application for an amendment at that time to renew these conditions.
The MOE received a total of 49 comments from members of the public on this proposal, through the Environmental Registry and by email.
The MOE stated that these comments were reviewed and, “where appropriate, were considered in the ministry’s decision whether or not to proceed with this proposal.”
The MOE divided the comments into five categories and addressed each in its decision.
The first category of concerns involved comments “about air emissions including dust and odour and concerns about the quality of the data in the application.” To these, the MOE’s response was that the application had demonstrated that the operation of the facility “complies with the ministry’s applicable air requirements including but not limited to the air discharge requirements in Reg. 419/05: Local Air Quality Regulation.”
Further, the ECA includes an “Operation and Maintenance condition” requiring Tomlinson to implement operating procedures to minimize the emissions of dust and odour from the facility. A “Dust Best Management Practices Plan and an Odour Management Plan were submitted as part of the application,” and the MOE includes conditions that require the company to implement the plans and update them.
Second, in response to concerns about the scope of Limited Operational Flexibility and whether it will allow the addition of a permanent ready-mix concrete plant, the ministry said the ECA defines an “operating envelope for the facility.” Any changes at the facility outside of this operating envelope — such as changes to increase the facility production limit or the addition of processes not included in the Description section of the decision — would require an amendment to the ECA. The MOE also noted that Tomlinson’s application did not request approval for a permanent ready-mix concrete plant and that an amendment to the ECA would be required prior to installing one.
A third category of concern was about the cumulative effects of pollutants emitted from the facility and other industries in the area.
According to the MOE, “The Cumulative Effects Assessment in Air Approvals Policy decision was posted to the Environmental Registry in April 2018 and came into effect on October 1, 2018. This policy strengthens and clarifies the consideration of cumulative effects when making decisions related to environmental compliance approvals and indicates when additional measures may be needed beyond current regulatory requirements.”
Under this policy, the MOE stated that no further action is required for the facility at this time. The ministry will continue to “look at other contaminants, sources and geographic areas and consult with the public and stakeholders as we expand the cumulative effects policy over time.”
The fourth category of comments concerned truck activities, facility/equipment heights, equipment manufacturers’ information, points of reception, noise control measures, and cumulative impacts. In response, the MOE said, “Truck speed will be restricted to 30 km/h and compression braking cannot be used. Equipment and facility information has been reviewed, and the selected points of reception and noise control measures are deemed adequate. No further action is required for the facility at this time regarding cumulative impacts.”
Finally, in regard to concerns about municipal zoning, increased traffic, and soil or water pollution, the ministry responded that these concerns are beyond the scope of Section 9 Environmental Compliance Approval and the air and noise application review process.
The MOE stated that the ECA decision can be appealed and that appellants have 15 days from September 5, 2023, to begin the appeal process.