The Lafarge cement plant in Exshaw is proposing to burn an engineered fuel in Kiln 5 as a means to reduce reliance on coal and natural gas.
The fuel, known as process-engineered fuel (PEF), is comprised of a blend of shredded and crushed wood waste (particle boards and manufactured wood products), non-chlorinated plastic (non-recyclable) and tar shingles.
Environmental co-ordinator Brad Watson said Monday (Sept. 30) the plant is proposing to use 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of PEF per year, replacing roughly 20 per cent of coal and natural gas used.
As part of the process leading to the submission of an application to Alberta Environment, Lafarge has held three stakeholder meetings to collect input to help inform them of the application.
“Once that proposal is submitted, we go to public consultation,” plant representative Michelle Gurney said.
For Lafarge, the benefits of burning PEF include moving towards meeting the company’s and province’s sustainability vision, reduce carbon footprint, remove trucks from the highway and reduce the amount of material going into landfills.
“Lafarge overall has a sustainability vision throughout the organization. With all of that it is 50 per cent alternative fuels by 2020. Right now they are about 12-13 per cent globally, so in each different area you might consider different plans or opportunities,” Gurney added.
The application for AESRD will have to include an emergency response plan and an emissions assessment. Worley Parsons has already conducted a human health risk assessment, which states that there will be “no negative emissions implications,” according to information provided by Gurney.
This also states that, given the high temperature of the kilns (1,500 C) tar, glue, resin and non-chlorinated plastic will completely incinerate the hydrocarbons.
Watson said PEF does not currently cost any less than coal or natural gas, but as prices for both of those fuels increase, PEF will likely become a less-expensive option.
He added that 30 per cent of the plant’s costs are related to energy use.
Lafarge hopes to submit its application to the province in October, which would then initiate the public consultation process shortly afterwards.
MD of Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper said that as two of Bighorn’s communities – Lac Des Arcs and Exshaw – are directly affected by this proposal, Bighorn council would ensure the proposal is examined.
“PEF has been posed as a question that will now be evaluated in several significant ways. It will be examined under the concept of the triple bottom line where the impact on the human health is the trump card and council will be certain to pass this by Alberta Health, who has responsibility for the health of every Albertan. I’m sure their scrutiny will be intense and directed towards acute and chronic health issues,” he said.