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Waste-to-energy facility partners fire up public outreach campaign

Proponents of a potential waste-to-energy incinerator at Nanaimo’s Duke Point will fire up a major public outreach campaign this January.

Representatives with Wheelabrator Technologies, Urbaser and Seaspan announced last week they’re set to launch an intense public education campaign on a proposed waste-to-energy facility, from stakeholder presentations to building tours and a new website. It’s all aimed at sharing their side of the story on waste-to-energy technology, which they claim is “more than safe enough” and environmentally sound.

The project, proposed during Metro Vancouver’s site selection process, sparked concerns from residents and politicians about smell, pollution and possible health issues. The proponents have been urging Nanaimo to keep its door open to the concept, and thanks to a City of Nanaimo decision to do just that, they say they are ready to address concerns and help people make an informed decision on the proposed project.

Metro Vancouver announced the city as a possible contender for a waste-to-energy facility and has given the companies consent to do public outreach.

“It’s exciting and we are kind of looking forward to this,” said Mark Swartz of Wheelabrator. “It’s an uphill road for us on projects like this, but I have been doing this job for 26 years ... and I have no problem looking in the mirror as a committed environmentalist and knowing how good these projects are overall.”

The outreach will include information from international studies, but proponents say it’s too early to do any local health, economic or environmental analysis.

Carla Stein, spokeswoman for Sierra Club’s Nanaimo chapter, questions a campaign without local data. When proponents say information campaign, “I am hearing propaganda,” she said. The club will launch its own campaign. The proponents’ website goes online in mid-January.

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