Town says health risks of power plant too great based on ERR

Renews call for an individual environmental assessment in response to TransCanada report

The town has released a response to TransCanada Energy’s draft Environmental Review Report (ERR) on the proposed power plant expressing concern that the plant will result in unacceptable risks to human health and safety.

“Based on the information included in the draft report, the town and Council believe the plant will add significant emissions of toxic air pollutants into Oakville’s already stressed airshed, in addition to producing a vapour or ice plume from its stack that could make nearby highways, roads and train tracks dangerous in certain weather conditions,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “We continue to call for an individual environmental assessment of the proposed power plant and for provincial regulation for fine PM and other health-risk air pollutants, which TransCanada’s report indicates will be released into the Oakville-Clarkson airshed.”

The town’s response to the ERR, which was released by TransCanada on January 26, 2010, includes a letter outlining the main conclusions drawn by town staff, legal, environmental and health experts, as well as accompanying appendices containing analysis of the ERR’s assessment of air quality, health risks from air emissions, vapour plume and noise, and technical comments from town staff. The letter outlines the town’s position that based on the magnitude of the project and its associated health risks an individual environmental assessment (EA) of the undertaking is needed.

According to the draft report, the power plant will produce concentrations of fine PM in the airshed at a level posing risks to human health that the town believes are unacceptably high. Based on the information provided, the power plant would produce direct emissions of fine PM at a rate almost 200 times greater than the threshold for a major emission specified by the town’s health protection air quality by-law.

Although TransCanada’s report was released after information meetings and public communication were conducted regarding the health protection air quality by-law, which protects the health of residents by regulating the release of fine PM and health-risk air pollutants by facilities in Oakville, the report does not contain the air quality modelling or reporting data required from proposed facilities under the by-law.

“As it stands, the emissions predicted in TransCanada’s report are far above the thresholds for fine PM emissions set by the town in the health protection air quality by-law, and the town will need further documentation of emissions and modelling that shows their effect on the airshed,” said Cindy Toth, director of Environmental Policy for the town. “We’d also like to see an adequate risk assessment of the potential for fires, explosions and other disasters due to a malfunction — something that is not sufficiently addressed by the draft report.”

To read the town’s complete response to the TransCanada ERR, including appendices, visit the Health Protection and Air Quality web pages.


For more information contact:

Cindy Toth
Director, Environmental Policy
Town of Oakville
905-845-6601, ext. 3299

Jane Courtemanche
Director, Strategy, Policy and Communications
Town of Oakville
905-845-6601, ext. 3038

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Town says health risks of power plant too great based on ERR