APAI – Fire and Decommissioning

In the last month APAI has written two more letters to the powers-that-be.  The first one concerns fire protection and the second decommissioning.

First, fire protection.  Back in October of 2011 the Ontario Fire Service, part of the Ontario Ministry of Labor, issued a Guidance Notice concerning fires in wind turbines. This Guidance Notice contained a list of general planning steps that were recommended.

“In cooperation with the wind turbine owner, fire departments should develop response safety plans that address issues such as:
1) Access to sites and contact numbers (24/7) for site supervisory staff
2) Safe collapse zones
3) Rescue options for workers trapped in the nacelle in non-fire situations
4) High-voltage components and combustible materials within the wind turbine.”

In February of 2013 APAI sent a letter to Algonquin, asking if Algonquin had prepared such plans.  No answer was ever received, leading APAI to conclude that “Algonquin is ignoring ‘Fire Fighters Guidance Note # 6-35: Issue: wind turbines,’ and, apparently does not consider safety from fire on Amherst Island to be a priority.”

In August 2013  APAI wrote a letter to the Minister of Labor, seeking “further advice on this matter.” 

APAI, Letter to Minister of Labor, plus attachments

Second, decommissioning.  Algonquin has stated that it is responsible for decommissioning the turbines at the end of their lives.  What they haven’t done, and are apparently unwilling to do, is to put up a bond or escrow to insure that this is done.  Algonquin is claiming, in what seems to be an industry-wide practice, that the salvage value of the turbines is enough to provide for their decommissioning.

There are at least two problems with this.  (1) what about the stuff that has no recycling value?  Or, even worse, no method of safe disposal at all?  The blades come to mind.  (2) Will the salvage value actually cover the decommissioning?

John Harrison did some research and discovered that the value of the materials, in current dollars, is a little over $6M, while the labor to install the turbines (and probably close to the labor to take them down, according to Stantec) is somewhere about $100M.  Recall that these materials are on an island and will have to be taken down and transported to an industrial recycler.

In August 2013 APAI sent a letter to Algonquin, reviewing these numbers and opining that these costs (assuming Algonquin actually ends up being responsible for them) make the Amherst Island project that much worse of a business proposition.

APAI, Letter to Algonquin re Decommissioning

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