Catalyst Paper on Tuesday defended its practice of burning used tires along with hog fuel as an alternate form of fuel.
Mill manager Tom Paisley and technical specialist Larry Cross were on hand at a Port Alberni city council meeting to answer questions on air quality raised last month by resident Jacques Savard.
Catalyst “does far better” than what B.C. governmental standards are as far as their best environmental practices, Paisley said.
Tire derived fuel (TDF) represents one to two per cent of the fuel Catalyst uses to create steam used in the paper making process, Cross said (they are permitted to use up to five per cent). That translates into about 100 passenger vehicle tires per tonne of fuel, or about 2000 individual tires per day.
Used tires are added to hog fuel primarily in the winter months, when the hog fuel is wet, he explained. Although the mill has pressers to press the water out of the wet wood, the addition of tire derived fuel makes the process go faster. The combustion air supply to the boiler is controlled, which prevents a tire fire, he said.
One of Catalyst’s predecessors installed a $20-million precipitator in 1989 to help stem the particulate reaching the air from the mill’s stacks, and this keeps Catalyst’s emissions within acceptable provincial levels, Cross said.
Air Quality Council chairperson Bernadette Wyton said the burning of TDF has been a concern ever since the paper mill was granted a provincial permit to do so in 1999.
While she acknowledged that Catalyst does monitor its air quality through an independent lab, testing is done one day per year, she said, and doesn’t capture the larger picture. The air quality council would like to know what the best available technology is for testing particulate, and Wyton said other technology does exist “that appears to be better than what is prescribed under the Canadian standards.”
When asked whether other mills in Canada also burn used tires as an alternate fuel, Cross said he didn’t know; that the company looked to the United States for environmental impact studies.
A 2007 assessment on the use of tires as an alternative fuel, compiled by staff in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, showed that 20 per cent of all scrap tires in Canada were used as TDF. In the United States in 2006, that figure was 59.3 per cent and rising.
In the United States the main user of tire derived fuels are cement kilns, which are permitted to burn whole tires.
Cross said Catalyst cannot burn whole tires; for example, from tire piles around Port Alberni. The tires must have any steel stripped out of them and be shredded, which is why the mill purchases its tire material from Island Tire Recycling in Chemainus.
The Dalhousie assessment, which was prepared for the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment and Labour, used the process at Norske Canada’s (now Catalyst Paper) mill in Port Alberni as an example of how air emission control devices are used in the burning of used tires as an alternative energy source.
A pulp and paper mill in western Newfoundland last January dropped plans to burn used tires for fuel. The proposal to test burn some of the province’s stockpile of used tires was met with public opposition.
Lehigh Northwest Cement in Delta has used recycled tires as a fuel supplement since 1994.