As­sess­ment of chitin plant un­der­way

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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.

chitin

pro­duc­tion

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.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

There are no plans to close the fed­er­ally op­er­ated post of­fice in Co­ley’s Point, says a spokesper­son for Canada Post.

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