Council, Plasco at crossroads on waste project

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Council approves Plasco deal
Plasco Energy's Trail Rd. facility in Ottawa.

By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

If council pulls the plug on its partnership with Plasco Energy Group, it will burn 10 years of work trying to back a made-in-Ottawa solution to the world’s garbage problems.

But patience has clearly worn thin at City Hall.

Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney indicated he might present a motion to council this month to end the city’s relationship with Plasco, rather than waiting until a discussion scheduled for later in February.

“I think this council wants a clean slate,” Tierney said Monday.

Council’s environment committee will discuss the Plasco agreement Feb. 17.

The company has failed to show it has financing in place to build a commercial plant that meets the city’s requirements.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, chairman of the environment committee, said council should still listen to Plasco’s explanation, though he understands why some of his colleagues are frustrated.

“They were given a long and patient opportunity to show their technology could work and now we need to explore other options,” Chernushenko said.

“We have to treat them as one of other potential suitors.”

Council in February is also expected to see the results of a request for information from other innovative waste-processing companies.

The city posted the notice Monday and set a Feb. 5 deadline for responses.

Staff first presented a proposal to council in 2005 to establish a Plasco demonstration plant at Trail Rd. after hearing a compelling pitch by former company executive Rod Bryden. After the plant was built, focus turned to creating a bigger facility that could handle the city’s residential waste load.

Bryden is no longer with the company. The current CEO is Raymond Floyd.

Some have joked around City Hall that Plasco’s technology borderlines on magic.

It involves taking a truckload of trash from the curbs and superheating it down to shiny rock — which can be used in construction aggregate — while powering electricity generators.

Ottawa’s long-term waste management plan has always hinged on whether or not Plasco could build a plant here.

Now, council has come to a crossroad in its garbage management strategy.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder has championed Plasco from the get-go. She doesn’t think council should dump Plasco without hearing what the company has to say.

The discussion, Harder said, must turn to what kind of waste management solution the city is looking for.

“I don’t think our relationship with Plasco is dead until it is dead,” Harder said.

“There’s no reason to formally disconnect. I see no reason to do that.”

Twitter: @JonathanWilling