Decommissioning – Amherst Island
Decommissioning of industrial wind turbines in Ontario is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The Association to Protect Amherst Island advised the Minister of the Environment that Windlectric/Algonquin in its decommissioning report proposes to cut up and dispose of wind turbine blades after twenty years in regulated municipal landfill sites. The Association pointed out that even a small blade contains about 10 tons of epoxy resin made with dangerous Bisphenol A known to damage human health.
APAI asked the Minister where these “regulated municipal landfill sites” are located, where the regulated sites are with capabilities to cut up turbine blades, and whether BPH is permitted in Ontario landfills. To date, no answer has been received.
Decommissioning will cause as much environmental impact on the Island as construction.
Amherst Island residents are concerned about Windlectric/Algonquin Power’s decommissioning plans for the 36 wind turbines in our community. We’ve seen examples in Hawaii and California – both early adapters to wind energy – of what abandoned, derelict fields of industrial wind turbines look like when their former owners walk away.
We keep reminding the Ontario Government that the project is proposed for an ISLAND where every component has to be transported to and from the project by barge at great cost.
While Windlectric/Algonquin Power acknowledges that the cost of decommissioning is to be borne by the project owner, the ‘decommissioning plan’ fails to address a number of key issues leaving the community and the environment at risk.
Wind energy developers in Ontario are not required to set money aside to pay for the removal of structures and the restoration of land when the life of a wind project ends. This is unusual, if not unique, in the western world. Mining and forestry companies are required to set millions of dollars aside to prepare for decommissioning of projects. We face a future when massive, obsolete turbines will be left to fall apart in our fields because land owners and municipalities will not be able to afford to clean up after the developers leaves.
More recently, Windlectric/Algonquin has advised that the company will cover the cost of decommissioning by selling the parts for salvage.
Windlectric/Algonquin’s consultant STANTEC in its report on ‘Decommissioning’ says that the decommissioning component of the proposed wind-turbine project will be similar in nature to the construction i.e.: ‘Many activities during decommissioning would be comparable to the construction phase, including the use of heavy equipment on site, restoring constructible areas around all Project infrastructure and preparing staging areas.’
Considered a mirror image of construction, the decommissioning cost has been estimated at $100 million.
Dr. John Harrison, physicist and APAI Vice-President, estimated the scrap value of the turbines proposed by Algonquin. Dr. Harrison’s calculation sheet is attached, based upon three major components of a turbine, and assuming 33 turbines in the project (all at to-day’s prices):
¾ The scrap value of steel: $3.0 million
¾ The scrap value of copper: $2.7 million
¾ The scrap value of rare earth in a turbine magnet $0.6 million
Total: $6.3 million
The scrap value of the Windlectric project would be far below the cost of decommissioning, which reinforces the conclusion that this project would be a bad business deal. The immediate risk factors before approval include the nationally and internationally recognized stature of the Island’s cultural and natural heritage. If approved, the cost and difficulty of construction on an Island, the very high community opposition to the project, the significantly lower energy output than Algonquin claims, and the high cost of decommissioning will result in a negative return on investment for Algonquin Power’s shareholders.
To review APAI’s response to Windlectric/Algonquin Power’s ‘decommissioning plan’ please click here: