Metro Vancouver's Waste-To-Energy Facility in south Burnaby is operated by Covanta. It's just completed a major upgrade to slash nitrogen oxide emissions.

Emissions, revenue down at Metro Vancouver garbage incinerator

Waste-to-energy plant completes pollution control upgrade, but its costs are up and electricity sales are down

Metro Vancouver’s garbage incinerator has cut its emissions by 53 per cent since completing a major pollution control upgrade over the past year.

The $7-million retrofit by plant operator Covanta means the plant’s nitrogen oxides emissions now make up 0.4 per cent of the total in the region, down from 0.8 per cent.

That’s just over one third of the emissions allowed under the current limit set by the provincial government, according to Metro.

The plant is still awaiting a new operating certificate from the environment ministry – Metro’s application for one was challenged by the Fraser Valley Regional District, which demanded tougher pollution controls and testing.

The waste-to-energy plant is also reporting a major drop in revenue in 2014.

It took in nearly $5.5 million from selling electricity, but that’s down from $7.4 million in 2013. Power generation was offline for part of the year because of repairs to a failed turbine blade, and a new electricity purchase deal is now in effect with BC Hydro that pays Metro lower prices than before.

The earnings picture for the Burnaby waste-to-energy plant, run by Covanta, has deteriorated since 2010, when it took in a combined total of $11 million from selling electricity to the grid and steam to an adjacent industrial plant that has since shut down.

With no buyer for the more lucrative steam, the WTE plant retooled to generate strictly electricity.

It also grappled with higher operating costs in 2014 to truck fly ash to Alberta because some loads had failed cadmium tests for B.C. landfill disposal.

Metro officials say the plant remains by far the most cost-effective method of disposing of garbage, compared to using the Vancouver Landfill or trucking it to the Cache Creek Landfill, which the region wants to stop using in favour of a new waste-to-energy plant.

Metro solid waste manager Paul Henderson said the disposal cost is about half the amount per tonne to haul waste inland and dump it at Cache Creek.

The existing incinerator burns about 285,000 tonnes of garbage a year and a new one – if approved – could take another 370,000 tonnes.

In 2014, the net cost of WTE disposal was $60.53 per tonne, with more than $80 per tonne in operating and debt costs reduced by nearly $20 a tonne in revenue. That net cost has nearly doubled from $33.30 per tonne in 2010 due to the rising costs and falling revenue.

The revenue doesn’t count tipping fees Metro collects from haulers that dump there.

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read