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Durham York Energy Centre

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General

Waste Diversion

Costs and Operations

Energy from Waste (EFW) Technology

Health and Environment

Public Outreach

General

How can I learn more about the DYEC?

Residents from both Durham and York Regions have many opportunities to be involved and stay informed, including attending public meetings and open house events. Check out the Public Outreach section for more information or join our contact list to be notified about upcoming activities.

Where is the Durham York Energy Centre (DYEC) located?

The DYEC is located at 1835 Energy Drive, Clarington, Ontario, Canada.

map displaying DYEC location
Click to Enlarge

Why did Durham and York Regions choose Energy from Waste (EfW)?

In 1998, Durham Region Works Committee directed the formation of two Committees, comprised of staff and residents, to recommend strategies for managing residential waste in Durham Region from the year 2000 to 2020. These Committees proposed the Long Term Waste Management Strategy Plan that was endorsed by Durham Regional Council. Recommendations made included the investigation of Energy from Waste (EFW) as an alternative to landfill for final disposal of residential garbage.

In 2005, both Durham and York Regions initiated a joint Environmental Assessment (EA) that included extensive public consultation to determine the "preferred alternative" for managing residential garbage taking into account social, environmental and economic factors. EFW was selected as the most environmentally sound, sustainable and cost-effective solution. This solution was approved by both Durham and York Regional Councils in 2006. The EA was completed in 2009 and subsequently approved by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in 2010.

How does the DYEC benefit Durham and York Regions?

The DYEC provides many benefits to Durham and York Regions, such as:

  • a safe, sustainable and responsible way to manage residential garbage locally that addresses current and future needs;
  • long-term direct control over processing and disposal of our residential garbage;
  • complementing local waste diversion programs;
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • conserving fossil fuels by recovering energy from waste;
  • producing base load electricity for the provincial power grid;
  • generating steam energy that can be used in the future for district heating;
  • improving recycling rates by capturing additional metals so that less raw materials need to be mined;
  • creating new economic opportunities for local labour and businesses; and
  • reducing the volume of garbage sent to landfill by up to 90 per cent which means fewer trucks on the road.

Who owns the DYEC?

The DYEC is 100 per cent publicly owned by Durham and York Regions. Ownership is based on the tonnage ratio of residential garbage each Region delivers to the facility annually. Since Durham Region delivers up to 110,000 tonnes of garbage/year and York Region 30,000 tonnes of garbage/year, the ownership ratio is approximately 78.6 per cent to 21.4 per cent respectively.

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Waste Diversion

How much garbage is processed at the DYEC?

The DYEC has a processing capacity of 140,000 tonnes of residential garbage/year.

How many trucks will come to the DYEC each day?

The average number of trucks arriving daily to the DYEC is 35. This is a combination of garbage delivery trucks, supply trucks and residue removal trucks.

Will garbage from other municipalities or sectors (industrial, commercial and institutional) be processed here?

No. The approved Environmental Assessment (EA) and Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for the DYEC specifically directs that only residential garbage from Durham and York Regions, collected by our contracted vendors, can be received and processed at this facility. Therefore, the DYEC will not accept garbage from other municipalities, sectors or private haulers.

How does EFW fit in with other waste diversion programs?

The solid waste management hierarchy illustrates the preferred order for managing waste to minimize its environmental impacts. The most important steps are to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. The next step is to recover which refers to the recovery of energy and additional metals from residential garbage. While energy recovery is important, Durham and York Regions are first committed to improving waste diversion rates through reuse, recycling and composting programs. Disposing waste into landfill is the least desirable option for managing waste.

Waste Management Hierarchy Diagram
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Do you pre-sort waste before processing at the DYEC?

There are many "hands" that pre-sort residential waste as it travels from homes and ends up as garbage at the DYEC:

  1. At the curb:
    • Residents are provided with convenient waste diversion programs like the Blue Box and Green Bin programs to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost as much waste as possible.
    • Collection contractors "tag" and leave behind improperly sorted items or unacceptable materials.
  2. At Durham and York Regions' Public Waste Depots:
    • Residents are directed to sort their waste properly, for example, household hazardous waste is taken to the depot for free and safe disposal.
    • Staff direct residents to appropriate stations for depositing waste and inspect containers and bunkers for improperly sorted items or unacceptable materials.
  3. At the Waste Transfer Station:
    • Staff monitor trucks for radiation using detectors at the weigh scales.
    • Staff inspect garbage as it is dumped by collection trucks and repacked into tractor trailers for delivery to the DYEC.
    • Staff will remove unacceptable or hazardous items.
  4. At the DYEC:
    • Staff monitor trucks at the weigh scales and confirm that only approved vehicles enter the site.
    • Radiation detection devices monitor inbound trucks as they approach the weigh scales. Garbage loads that do not pass the radiation screening will be rejected and sent away without dumping their load.
    • Facility operators inspect waste visually prior to processing and will remove unacceptable items.

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Costs and Operations

How much did the DYEC project cost?

The gross capital costs for the DYEC project amount to $284.2 million; this includes $255 million for construction of the facility and approximately $29 million for the Environmental Assessment, permitting and approvals, site servicing, consulting fees and economic development activities in the host community of Clarington.

How much does it cost to operate the DYEC?

The gross annual operating costs are approximately $14.7 million (2010 dollars).

How are the costs funded?

Durham Region's portion of the DYEC project capital costs were funded by the Federal Gas Tax. The operating costs are funded through:

  • revenue generated from the sale of electricity which is approximately $8.5 million annually;
  • revenue generated from the sale of recovered metals which is approximately $550,000 annually, depending on commodity market prices; and
  • the annual Council approved Solid Waste Management budget.

Who is responsible for day-to-day operations?

Covanta is the designer, builder and operator of the DYEC. Covanta employs approximately 40 full-time, highly qualified staff to operate the facility under the Regions' supervision for a 20-year term, plus optional term extensions of up to 10 years. Regional staff work on-site at the DYEC to oversee the facility and maintain on-going communication and documentation with Covanta's facility operators. Regional staff ensure that Covanta: (i) abides by the conditions of the Ministry of the Environment's Environmental Compliance Approval and other applicable regulatory requirements; (ii) meets the contract terms for operations, maintenance and environmental performance outlined in the Project Agreement; and (iii) meets public expectations and operates the facility to the highest standards.

What are the DYEC's hours of operation?

The facility operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with periodic scheduled shutdowns for maintenance activities. Garbage deliveries are limited to Monday through Saturday, 7 am to 7 pm.

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Energy from Waste (EFW) Technology

What is EFW?

EFW is a highly technical process that takes garbage and combusts (burns) it at extremely high temperatures (greater than 1,000 °C). The resulting thermal energy (heat) produces steam, which turns a turbine generator to produce electricity. After the garbage is completely combusted, metal can be recovered from the ash and recycled, thereby reducing the need to mine raw materials to make new products.

What is the difference between an EFW facility and an incinerator?

Modern EFW facilities differ from incinerators of the past which were designed to do one thing – reduce the volume of garbage requiring disposal. Garbage was processed using uncontrolled combustion with minimal to no air pollution control systems. They did not recover energy or any other value from the garbage material. In contrast, modern EFW facilities combust garbage in a highly controlled and efficient combustion system, recover energy and metals from the combustion process and are equipped with proven air emission control technologies that reduce emissions to safe levels in accordance with strict regulatory requirements.

How is garbage processed at the DYEC to generate energy?

Some of the key stages of the EFW process are outlined in the diagram and description below:

Energy-from-Waste Process Diagram
Click to Enlarge

  1. After you’ve sorted your recyclables and compost from your garbage, garbage only is collected from your home for processing at the DYEC.
  2. After being weighed, delivery trucks unload the residential garbage in an enclosed building which is maintained under negative pressure to control potential odour.
  3. The garbage is contained in a large concrete storage pit and mixed with an overhead grapple crane.
  4. The crane feeds garbage into a combustion chamber where it is burned at extremely high temperatures (greater than 1,000 °C) in a self-sustaining process.
  5. Heat from the combustion process boils water to create high-pressure steam. The steam turns a turbine-driven generator to produce electricity.
  6. Electricity is sold to the Provincial grid and used to power homes and businesses.
  7. State-of-the-art air pollution control equipment is used to cool, collect, and clean combustion gases. This equipment operates under stringent regulatory standards.
  8. Particulate matter emissions, “fly ash”, are controlled primarily through a baghouse (fabric filter). Fly ash is treated on-site to render it inert and non-toxic. It is tested to ensure that it is safe to dispose of in a similar manner to bottom ash (see #12 below).
  9. Emissions and other operating criteria are continuously monitored to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
  10. Residual material from the combustion chamber is collected for processing and metals recovery.
  11. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recovered for recycling.
  12. Remaining residual materials, “bottom ash”, are inert and non-toxic. The bottom ash is tested to confirm that it is safe to dispose of in a landfill or for beneficial reuse purposes.

How much energy is produced at the DYEC and what is it used for?

The DYEC generates approximately 14 MW of net electrical energy on a continuous basis, which is enough to power about 10,000 homes. The electricity is sold to the Provincial grid as base load energy at the guaranteed price of $0.08 per kWh inflation indexed for a 20-year term. In the future, steam from the DYEC may be used for district heating in the Clarington Energy Park located adjacent to the facility. The steam produced could heat the equivalent of 2,200 homes.

What is left after garbage is processed?

The EFW process reduces the volume of residential garbage by approximately 85 to 90 per cent. The largest portion of the end products is an inert, non-toxic bottom ash, which resembles crushed rock and can be reused as daily landfill cover material or, in some jurisdictions, as a construction aggregate in materials like asphalt and concrete. The smaller portion is fly ash and lime residue which is captured in the air pollution control equipment. Fly ash is also tested to ensure it is inert and non-toxic and it is disposed of in a similar manner to bottom ash or it is sent to a licenced secure hazardous waste facility/landfill. Fly ash represents about 5 per cent of the total residual ash from the garbage combustion process.

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Health and Environment

Is the DYEC safe?

Yes. Human health and the environment are primary concerns for both Durham and York Regions. As such, the Regions have undertaken a series of detailed studies on air emissions, health, traffic, noise, ground and surface water to assess any potential effects from the DYEC to ensure that residents and the environment are protected. Results of the Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment studies in the Environmental Assessment concluded that the DYEC would not lead to any adverse health risks to the public or environment.

How can I access emissions data for the facility?

The gases generated in the EFW process are sampled continuously using state-of-the-art technology; this is referred to as continuous emissions monitoring or CEM. Monitoring emissions ensures that the DYEC continues to comply with stringent environmental monitoring and mitigation plans, standards and guidelines set out by the facility's Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) granted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Does the DYEC impact climate change?

EFW is recognized as a net reducer of greenhouse gas emissions by the Global Roundtable on Climate Change (GROCC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union due to the following:

  • Reduced methane (CH4) emissions from landfills. The EFW process reduces the volume of residential garbage going to landfill by up to 90 per cent thereby reducing the amount of materials that would break down over time and release methane.
  • Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from trucks. Local EFW facilities mean that long-haul transportation methods for shipping garbage to distant landfills are avoided hence carbon dioxide emissions are reduced.
  • Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion. When a megawatt of electricity is generated by an EFW facility, carbon dioxide emissions that would have been generated by a fossil-fuel fired power plant are avoided.
  • Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from metals production. Recovering metal for recycling saves energy and avoids carbon dioxide emissions that would have been emitted if raw materials were mined and new metals were manufactured.

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Public Outreach

How can I learn more about the DYEC?

Residents from both Durham and York Regions have many opportunities to be involved and stay informed, including attending public meetings and open house events. Check out the Public Outreach section for more information or join our contact list to be notified about upcoming activities.

I would like to book an educational tour of the DYEC; how do I do this?

Educational Tours for school groups, post-secondary programs and industry groups are available but must be scheduled in advance, please contact us to make a request.

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