October 28, 2011
Plasco Energy Group, the Canadian company that's planning a garbage gasification plant for Gonzales, has just received approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to operate its demonstration plant in Ottawa full time.
The MOE wrapped its final environmental screening report earlier this month; the plant, also known as the Trail Road facility, ended its three-year trial run in January. While its emissions levels during that time exceeded federal limits numerous times, Plasco vice president of business development Alisdair McLean says the company has been working to tweak the plant's engineering design to bring emissions in line.
"We've already started all the preparations to get the plant up and running again," McLean says. "I'm guessing it will be up and running in a matter of days," though only at partial capacity so the design changes can be tested and adjusted if needed.
Meanwhile, opponents of the proposed Gonzales facility gathered outside Salinas City Hall Tuesday (pictured) to protest city officials' support of the plant, which was green-lighted by the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority.
Carrying signs in English and Spanish with messages like "STOP Plasco incinerator" and "Gonzales libre de contaminacion" (Gonzales free of pollution), the protesters gave voice to their community's longstanding concerns about the potential environmental impact of the plant and the technology's lack of track record.
"[Plasco's] never built a full operational facility anywhere in the U.S.," says Margaret Serna Bonetti, an anti-Plasco activist and former Salinas mayoral candidate. She also accuses the company of disseminating false information in its promotional materials, including the 4,000 glossy brochures sent to Gonzales residents and other stakeholders this week. McLean and local Plasco spokesperson Kristina Chavez-Wyatt say that all of Plasco's official communications are factually accurate and can be fact-checked at zerowasteottawa.com.
Environmental consulting firm ESA began the Gonzales project's environmental review last month.