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South Surrey rubber plant operated by Weir Minerals asks to boost emissions limit

‘Marginal’ increase reignites concern for Brookswood aquifer
Richard Stephenson of Weir Canada speaks to a number of Langley and Surrey residents that came out to a 2017 public information meeting on emissions from Weir’s rubber plant. (File photo)

Owners of a South Surrey rubber plant are asking Metro Vancouver to boost their allowed annual emissions, and anyone with concerns or comments has until at least May 14 to make them known.

Officials with Weir Minerals say the increase sought is a “marginal” one that will permit up to 19 tonnes of emissions per year from its 18933 34A Ave. facility. Their existing permit, amended in 2018, allows 18.11 tonnes/year.

The change “merely reflects more refined analysis performed since operations have commenced,” managing director Rob Fawcett explained of the request.

“It does not reflect any change in operations.”

He noted that four of nine emission sources are also proposed to be removed, eliminating the potential of emissions from those sources.

Opponents, however, say they are uncomfortable with any increase, given the site’s proximity to the Brookswood aquifer, and are even questioning how the permit for 18.11 tonnes/year came to be.

In 2017, the company projected annual emissions totalling 42 tonnes. An environmental protection notice issued that January listed contaminants including hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.

Following public feedback – area residents said zero emissions is the only acceptable proposal – Weir reduced its limit request to 2.49 tonnes.

READ MORE: Proposed emissions from South Surrey rubber plant concern

That permit, Metro Vancouver officials clarified in a recent email to Peace Arch News, also authorized “fugitive emissions” – room air from doors and other openings in the building that has the potential to contain air contaminants up to occupational-exposure limits. It did not, however, include quantitative limits for them.

Weir asked in 2018 to further reduce its point-sources emissions limit to 2.24 tonnes per year. The 18.11 tonnes/year limit at that time included an estimated 15.9 tonnes/year of fugitive emissions, Metro said.

For the latest application, which seeks to add a provision for fugitive emissions of volatile compounds, Metro asked Weir to apply for quantitative limits.

Fawcett said the requested limits are within the lowest emission limits of other permits issued by Metro Vancouver for similar sources. As well, the increase “is more than offset by the reductions associated with the proposed removal of four other sources from our permit.”

He noted that a four-member committee consisting of two technical experts appointed by the community and two Weir employees has been meeting since 2018. An engagement and action plan in place for more than three years as a result requires ongoing monitoring, measuring and analysis of Weir’s processes, as well as periodic reviews relating to human health and safety and the environment, he added.

“Throughout this process strong bonds have been built in the community and no environmental complaints have been received by Weir’s Surrey facility.”

Fawcett encouraged anyone with concerns or questions to reach out.

South Surrey resident Terry McNeice said opponents of any increase to emissions are hoping many from Surrey and throughout Metro Vancouver will submit their concerns before the opportunity to do so closes.

The deadline for submissions to Metro Vancouver is 30 days from the most recent public notification, however, officials say comments received after that time may still be considered if a decision has not yet been made. As well, the deadline would extend by another 30 days if Metro requires the applicant to hold a public meeting.

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Richard Stephenson of Weir Canada speaks to Langley and Surrey residents that came out to a 2017 public information meeting on emissions from Weir’s rubber plant. (File photo)

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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