As­sess­ment of chitin plant de­layed

Com­pany in ‘de­ci­sion-mak­ing mode’

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

Com­pany in ‘de­ci­sion-mak­ing mode’

From shell­fish to chitin

An en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment of a pro­posal by Quin­lan Brothers Lim­ited to con­struct and op­er­ate a chitin/chi­tosan pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity and lab­o­ra­tory in Bay de Verde has been de­layed by al­most two months. The re­view process is 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 was May 25.

En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter Ross Wise­man was ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion on the pro­ject by June 4. How­ever, no de­ci­sion has been made.

A spokesper­son for the depart­ment wrote the fol­low­ing in an e-mail to The Com­pass: “ The min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion on this mat­ter hasn’t been made yet. Once a de­ci­sion is reached, an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment bul­letin will be is­sued.”

Last week, in a guarded and some­what eva­sive state­ment, com­pany man­ager Robin Quin­lan said, “I don’t re­ally have much to say … un­til such a time as we make a de­ci­sion of­fi­cially.” He in­di­cated the com­pany is cur­rently in a “de­ci­sion-mak­ing mode.”

Quin­lan also said the com­pany is not wait­ing on any­thing, which is a sur­pris­ing re­sponse, con­sid­er­ing such a plant will not ma­te­ri­al­ize with­out the gov­ern­ment’s stamp of ap­proval.

“ We’re just an­a­lyz­ing our busi­ness plan in­ter­nally, and that’s it,” he stated.

Though un­able to speak for the com­pany, Bay de Verde mayor Ger­ard Mur­phy added, “I would imag­ine they have to as­sess where they are, to see if it’s in­deed a vi­able op­er­a­tion.”

The com­pany’s pro­posal calls for the use of 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, and 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 chitin pro­duc­tion 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 pro­ject comes with a hefty price tag, with es­ti­mates rang­ing from $5 mil­lion to $6.5 mil­lion.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view with The Com­pass, Quin­lan re­ferred to the chitin plant as “an­other link in the chain” to en­sure the long-

Ger­ard Mur­phy is the mayor of Bay de Verde.

term vi­a­bil­ity of its Bay de Verde op­er­a­tion.

The Bay de Verde coun­cil voted 4-3 to grant ap­proval-in-prin­ci­ple to the pro­ject at a coun­cil meet­ing on March 3.

The com­pany ini­tially pro­posed the es­tab­lish­ment of the plant in Old Per­li­can, 12 kilo­me­tres away. Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Char­lene John­son ap­proved the en­vi­ron­men­tal pre­view re­port in March 2009.

But when Old Per­li­can res­i­dents op­posed the pro­ject, the com­pany tem­po­rar­ily shelved the idea.

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.

To al­lay the fears of Bay de Verde res­i­dents who have ex­pressed con­cerns about air emis­sions, the dis­charge of ef­flu­ent into the marine ecosys­tem, and the trans­port and use of haz­ardous chem­i­cals, the com­pany of­fered re­as­sur­ances that all safety pre­cau­tions will be taken.

No word

Mur­phy said coun­cil has heard “ab­so­lutely noth­ing” from ei­ther the gov­ern­ment or the com­pany.

In an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment bul­letin is­sued by the gov­ern­ment on April 20, the Quin­lan Brothers pro­posal was one of three await­ing the min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion early in June. The oth­ers are St. Ge­orge’s Area Cran­berry Farm and Deer Lake Pres­sure Treated Lum­ber Treat­ment Plant. An­other un­der­tak­ing — the Ter­renceville - Yel­low Cove ATV Trail — was re­leased.

Mur­phy be­lieves the de­lay is “part of the process.” How­ever, be­cause he hasn’t dealt with the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment process be­fore, he doesn’t “ know where things are with it.”

Com­pany ‘go­ing full tilt’

Mean­while, the com­pany is “go­ing full tilt” with snow crab pro­duc­tion and shrimp pro­cess­ing, Mur­phy in­di­cated. He is “sure their hu­man re­sources have been de­ployed there,” he said.

Quin­lan in­di­cated once a de­ci­sion is made, the me­dia will be con­tacted “as to what it is ex­actly we’re do­ing here,” he said.

Quin­lan Brothers Lim­ited, seen in the back­ground in this photo of Bay de Verde, em­ploys some 400-plus peo­ple and is con­sid­ered one of the most ac­tive fis­ing op­er­a­tions in the prov­ince.

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