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Covanta Energy fined for air pollution in US

A waste-to-energy company that is bidding for Metro Vancouver's garbage has been fined for air pollution violations in the U.S, according to a report this month in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Covanta Energy Corporation has been fined more than $100,000 for violations at five plants in three states. The fines were for emitting excessive levels of the pollutants nickel, soot, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide and failure to adequately control smokestack pollutants.

The New Jersey-based company, which operates a total of 44 plants that produce electricity from garbage, recently bought a Burnaby incinerator operated by Veolia Environmental Services.

Covanta has also partnered with Green Island Energy to build a plant in Gold River, B.C. and is one of the many proponents interested in Metro Vancouver's residual solid waste -- the approximately 1.6 million tonnes of annual garbage that can't be recycled or reused. The plant, which is sited on a former pulp mill, would burn a mixture of this municipal waste and wood waste.

The project has high-profile lobbyist Andrew Wilkinson behind it, the Surrey Leader reported this week. Wilkinson is former provincial deputy minister and past president of the B.C. Liberal party.

The vice-president of Green Island Energy, Bruce Clark, also has strong Liberal ties. He is chair of the Liberal's B.C. Laurier Club and brother to former Liberal minister and deputy leader Christy Clark.

Bruce Clark did not comment specifically on Covanta's pollution fines, but told The Tyee that the proposed Gold River facility will use the "newest generation of combustion and pollution control technology," and will be "significantly better than the current facility in Burnaby."

He acknowledged the public concerns around air pollution and waste-to-energy facilities, particularly in the Fraser Valley, and noted that the Gold River plant, on Vancouver Island, is "out of that air shed."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee

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