Maybe the sources in the Thorhild County (not Thornhild County) that stated that their Council flatly turned down the HAZCO proposal there were not telling the truth, or maybe HAZCO is not telling the truth. I know where my money goes for a bet on that. Any takers?
As to the faltered implementation of the HAZCO proposal in Sturgeon County, there was a lot of opposition by residents and industry to the proposal there. A screening report was produced by Alberta Environment on HAZCO's proposal for Sturgeon County. Alberta Environment concluded its screening report with:
AST [Alberta Sulphur Terminals, a.k.a. HAZCO] should be advised that due to lack of knowledge regarding the environmental impacts associated with its proposed sulphur management facility, as well as, the potential socioeconomic and transportation impacts associated with its Project, it is required to prepare and submit to the Director an EIA report according to Section 45(1)(b) of EPEA.
SCREENING REPORT (2002)
ALBERTA SULPHUR TERMINALS LTD.
PROPOSED SULPHUR MANAGEMENT FACILITY
Issued by: Alberta Environment
Date: October 10, 2002
(Link to report)
It doesn't surprise anyone that HAZCO then withdrew its intentions to build there because it was becoming a bit too expensive to proceed in the face of all of the opposition to their second attempt at getting their proposal accepted. The cost of an environmental impact assessment for such a proposal would run to about $1.5 million dollars.
HAZCO had wanted to do a first in the world, use sulphur as landfill and sell as much sulphur as it could (virtually none or none at all — low market demand permitting — see world sulphur market trend information). Ten million tonnes of sulphur as landfill, requiring at that time no more than 37 trucks per day according to HAZCO (as opposed to the 50 to 60 trucks a day for the Lamont County proposal) and slated to remain in the ground forever....
Now HAZCO's plans for constructing a sulphur landfill have been changed, it says, but the information available in HAZCO's Lamont information office tells a different story, notwithstanding the denial by the HAZCO representative in the face of all evidence to the contrary surrounding her in that office.
As to the differences between the designs for the two proposals in Sturgeon County and Thorhild County and that for Lamont County, earlier this year the design was still the same: sub-surface storage in a pit with a 10mm to 40mm limestone bottom-layer (that would, by the way, be constantly immersed in ground water), with that layer being covered with a 20mil plastic film — all to be surrounded with berms. In HAZCO's plans attached to its October 19, 2005 application (revised) berms are shown for the north and west side of the area designated "Temporary Sulphur Storage" that is to be the location of a
sulphur block. [See update 2005 11 20]
Later I was informed that the plastic liner no longer was part of HAZCO's plan for Lamont County, but, as you can easily determine from the conglomerate of varying ideas as to what HAZCO envisions in its answers in its frequently-asked questions page, its plan still provides for sub-surface storage of the
sulphur block. If not, the alternative would look like the photo-montage on the right, depicting a
sulphur block at the proposed HAZCO site (notice the sulphur dust blown by the wind to the right, such dust being blown by the wind being a normal condition), and that would be just at the very start of their operations.
As to the difficulties of finding customers for HAZCO's product, what is different now to make those difficulties vanish? Besides, that's HAZCO's problem, not that of the residents in the vicinity of HAZCO's intended sulphur storage site. Those residents have far more pressing problems to worry about in relation to HAZCO's intentions, with the prevailing and persistent dearth of customers for sulphur being a major cause of all of those problems.
Lastly, beware of the rotoforming machine plot. Although there is no telling of what HAZCO put into the application it filed on that, ever since the open house in Bruderheim HAZCO spoke of eight of those machines. When HAZCO's ability to satisfy the sulphur-market demand is exceeded by the daily volume of liquid sulphur arriving at HAZCO's site, there would be long-term sulphur storage — long-term, as in forever.
Update 2005 11 20: The assertions by the HAZCO official that the details of HAZCO's application filed with Alberta Environment are not accessible to the public are not true. With regard to storage of
sulphur in blocks, HAZCO's Application for Approval (October 19, 2005, Revised) submitted to Alberta Environment tells a story different from that told by the HAZCO official at the Lamont HAZCO information office November 4, 2005, and different from that told by HAZCO at the Open House and Public Discussion Forum at the Lamont Recreation Centre November 17, 2005.
HAZCO's application clearly shows in several instances of illustrations attached to its application that it plans to have what it calls "Temporary Sulphur Storage" using the
sulphur-block method, notwithstanding that the HAZCO official at the Lamont HAZCO information office vehemently insisted that
sulphur-block storage was not part of HAZCO's application, and notwithstanding that HAZCO officials at the November Public Discussion Forum at the Lamont Recreation Centre insisted as well that no
sulphur-block storage will be required in its operation.
Nevertheless, when HAZCO still openly admitted that
sulphur-block storage was part of HAZCO's design, HAZCO offered definitions of what it considers to be temporary that differed by as much as by 40 years, with "temporary" — according to HAZCO officials — ranging from 25 years to 65 years.
There, too, HAZCO's apparent ignorance (whether real or pretended makes no difference) with sulphur handling issues and concerns peeks through. Experts commissioned by the oil industry to examine alternatives for — and environmental concerns with — various methods for pouring and maintaining
sulphur blocks consider intervals up to one year interim, and any interval larger than that for the existence of
sulphur blocks to be long term. The reasons why HAZCO's varying definitions of "temporary" deviate so widely from industry standards are left up to anyone's imagination.
However, there is the question of why HAZCO would ever have considered sub-surface pits for storage of sulphur, a method that (short of burial of sulphur in layers covered with limestone, or storage of sulphur in depleted mines or in salt domes, all of which present enormous difficulties, especially with respect to eventual recovery) appears to have been dismissed out of hand by all sulphur experts. A great concern is, of course, why HAZCO — with obvious intents for long-term sulphur storage — insists that long-term storage of sulphur will not be part of its intentions and that it erroneously asserts that
sulphur-block storage is not part of its application filed with Alberta Environment (the application, filed just days before the public discussion forum, shows HAZCO's intention to store
sulphur in block). That is does so in spite of HAZCO's assertions to the contrary seems less caused by ignorance and ineptitude than by deliberate intentions to obfuscate the truth.
The reality posed by large concentrations of sulphur is that the environment provides an abundance of thiobacilli that readily thrive on sulphur (whether at the sulphur-to air or sulphur-to-water interface makes little difference), while the main product of the bacteria's action on sulphur in the presence of water is nothing less than sulphuric acid. That fact makes HAZCO's constant assertion that the presence of large quantities of elemental sulphur presents no danger to the environment or to people a bald-faced lie or at the very least a serious breach of due diligence. It is absolutely inexcusable for anyone wishing to make the storage and handling of sulphur his livelihood and business to be ignorant or in denial of the environmental danger posed by sulphur. Those dangers are well known in the sulphur industry. They are the subject of many studies intended to find remedies.
There is absolutely no doubt that the only economical alternative for long-term sulphur storage is to pour it into large blocks, fifty feet high, hundreds of feet wide and more than a thousand feet long, and that Lamont County residents want no long-term sulphur storage in Lamont County.
HAZCO's application has all the appearances of the bait-and-switch method of a shady door-to-door salesman who puts his foot in the door; except that HAZCO has very little with which to bait the residents of Lamont County. Besides, as one of the respondents at the November 17, 2005 public discussion forum pointed out, in today's climate of constant corporate mergers, there is little to no chance that any of HAZCO's promises and assertions will hold when the ownership of the sulphur-storage and handling operation in the County of Lamont changes hands a few years down the road.
Moreover, Don Friesen, CEO of HAZCO, made it clear at the public discussion forum that the ownership of the sulphur HAZCO intends to store and handle will at all times remain with its producers, not with HAZCO.
Thiobacilli occur naturally in North American soils. They love sulphur and live on it. Thiobacilli thrive on
sulphur blocks, forming a dense matrix with sulphur surfaces, reducing the surface of a
sulphur block to sulphuric acid. Dust comprised of sulphur and of sulphates is a by-product of that process. That dust is carried many kilometers downwind from a given
Thiobacilli are obligate autotrophs, ....
In nature, the distribution of reduced inorganic sulfur compounds is only one of the factors governing the presence and activity of the colorless sulfur bacteria. One crucial factor is the requirement for the simultaneous presence of an electron donor and electron acceptor (i.e., oxygen or nitrogen oxides). The bacteria tends to grow in narrow zones and gradients where sulfide and oxygen coexist, such as in stratified lakes and at the interface between aerobic water and anaerobic sediment. There are two main type of Thiobacillus, one that grows only in neutral pH and the other (including T. intermedius) that are the species that grow in environments that are not neutral pHs. Marine and fresh water strains are known
Thiobacillus implications for the environment:
Because many of the colorless sulfur bacteria produce sulfuric acid, they are often associated with the oxidative corrosion of concrete and pipes, and have been implicated in the corrosion of buildings and ancient monuments.[My emphasis — WHS] Acid and metal pollution can also be a result of the activity of Thiobacilli in mine waste (Tuovinen and Kelly, 1972). On the more positive side, the production of acid can be used in leaching processes for the extraction of metals from poor ores that are unsuitable for extraction by conventional metallurgical methods.
Source: Thiobacillus intermedius, by Marina Richard
Etymology: probably from German autotroph, from Greek autotrophos supplying one's own food, from aut- + trephein to nourish
1 : needing only carbon dioxide or carbonates as a source of carbon and a simple inorganic nitrogen compound for metabolic synthesis
2 : not requiring a specified exogenous factor for normal metabolism
- au·to·tro·phi·cal·ly /-fi-k(&-)lE/ adverb
- au·tot·ro·phy /o-'tä-tr&-fE/ noun
For More Information on "autotrophic" go to Britannica.com
Get the Top 10 Search Results for "autotrophic"
(Source: Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary)
Sulphuric acid in the environment
....In some cases, yellow traces of block’s presence have been found up to many kilometres down wind. Sulphur entering the environment in disperse form undergoes incorporation into the biological cycle via oxidation to sulphuric acid. The phenomenon proceeds through the activity of Thiobacilli, extreme autotrophic bacteria, that are able to gain energy by the oxidation of elemental sulphur (see box). This biological oxidation of sulphur may be detrimental to the environment if the quantity of acid produced by sulphur oxidation exceeds the buffering capacity of the local environment where sulphur oxidation takes place. If that occurs, pH tends to decrease reaching sometime dangerous values for the residential biota and possibly constituting an indirect risk for human health. When soil pH decreases due to sulphur deposition, liming has been proved effective to restore natural values. Acid generation in excess of the environment buffering capacity is what usually happens on and around sulphur stockpile. This constitutes the most important environmental issue for sulphur storage. [original emphasis]
Due to its low pH, runoff water around a
sulphur block has to be collected and neutralized before discharge. Besides being a cost, this constitutes a management problem and a long term liability for the
sulphur block’s owner. Some recent studies place yearly water management costs for aging blocks at values exceeding 1 $/tonne, which adds up to millions of dollars per year for the actual or predicted storage capacity of many production sites.[original emphasis]
....Tests show that permafrost conditions will prevent any water acidification if sulphur is buried deep enough underground.
It is quite possible that sulphur will continue to be produced more than the world is able to consume. However, looking at the R&D efforts being devoted to improve sulphur storage technologies, it appears that oil companies are committed to quickly learn how to render long term sulphur storage respectful of the environment and safe for local communities.
Long term storage (PDF file),
By Francesco Crescenzi, Antonella Crisari, Francesca
De Ferra, Alessandro Nardella/EniTecnologie
The residents of the County of Lamont would have to have rocks in their heads to volunteer being guinea pigs in an environmental experiment that will evolve as attempts will have to be made to deal with a looming environmental catastrophe of massive proportions.