Assessment of chitin plant underway
An environmental assessment of a proposal by Quinlan Brothers Limited to construct and operate achitin/chitosan production facility and laboratory in Bay de Verde is now being carried out by the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation.
The undertaking was registered with the province on April 20, and the deadline for public comments is May 25.
Environment and Conservation Minister Ross Wiseman is expected to make a decision on project by June 4.
The company is proposing to use waste material from shellfish processing to manufacture chitin. This natural material is used in, among other things, water treatment systems, drilling fluids for the oil and gas sector, as well as the cosmetics industry.
According to information released by the province, the operation involves processing shellfish waste into a powder using potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid and water. The existing shellfish processing plant in Bay de Verde will be expanded to accommodate the proposed facility.
The facility will operate 24 hours-a-day for approximately eight months of the year, with a winter shutdown. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2011.
The town council in Bay de Verde voted 4-3 to grant approvalin-principle to the project at a March 3 council meeting.
The council vote followed a lively public meeting at the town hall on Feb. 23 in which some 60 people attended to hear from representatives of the company.
Some residents have expressed concerns about air emissions, the discharge of effluent into the marine ecosystem, and the transport and use of hazardous chemicals.
One member of council, Jennie Riggs, believes a majority of residents are opposed to the project, and she has called on council to hold a plebiscite on the matter.
The company has offered reassurances that all safety measures will be taken.
Robin Quinlan, an executive with Quinlan Brothers Limited, told The Compass in March the company views the chitin plant as “another link in the chain” to ensure the long-term viability of its Bay de Verde operation, which employs some 400-plus people and is considered one of the most active fishing operations in the province.
“ We want to make sure that if it’s done, it’s done right,” Quinlan stated.
In early 2008, the St. John’s-based company was awarded up to $2.4 million under ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund in order to conduct research and development into the processing of chitin and chitosan, which are natural derivatives of shrimp and crab shell waste. Estimates for the project have ranged from $5 million to $6.5 million.
There are no plans to close the federally operated post office in Coley’s Point, says a spokesperson for Canada Post.