Any facility that manages the disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) produces emissions. Waste-to-energy facilities are no exception, but stringent environmental regulations are placed on modern facilities to ensure that conversion of waste to useful energy and materials is carefully controlled and well-monitored.
Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility produces very low levels of air emissions. Monitoring of both stack emissions and air quality around the facility has been conducted since facility startup in 1988. The range of contaminants monitored is broad, including common air contaminants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), as well as acid gases, trace metals, trace organics, and dioxins / furans. Monitoring results are provided to the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, the regulator for the Facility. A summary of the monitoring results is available here.
The following graphics provide a summary of the waste to energy facility emissions of two key air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These pollutants are management priorities in Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan. NOx is key pollutant which leads to the formation of ground-level ozone, while PM2.5 is responsible for a significant portion of the human health impacts associated with air pollution in the Lower Fraser Valley.
The pie charts below show the proportion of Lower Fraser Valley PM2.5 and NOX emitted by Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility in 2014. The line charts show the Facility’s PM2.5 and NOX emissions performance over time, with the BC Ministry of Environment regulatory limits indicated in red. From these charts it is clear that the Metro Vancouver Waste-to-Energy Facility contributes a very small proportion of PM2.5 and NOX emissions to the region’s airshed. The facility has always performed considerably better than the required regulatory emissions standards, has continued to improve performance over time, through continuous operational improvements, and major upgrades of emissions control equipment.
2014 Lower Fraser Valley Fine Particle Matter (PM2.5) Emissions Sources
WTEF Emissions Performance - Particulate Matter
What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 refers to microscopic solid and liquid particles, 2.5 micrometres or smaller, that are suspended in the atmosphere; can be emitted directly from sources or formed secondarily in the atmosphere. The major sources of PM2.5 in the Lower Fraser Valley are from Heating (including residential wood burning), industrial sources, open burning, non-road engines, air/rail/marine engines, on-road vehicle engines. PM2.5 emissions from Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-energy Facility account for 0.001% of the total emissions sources.
2014 Lower Fraser Valley Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Emissions Sources
WTEF Emissions Performance - Nitrogen Oxides
What is Nitrogen oxides (NO)x?
Nitrogen oxides (NO)x is group of highly reactive gases that include nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2); NO2 is an odorous, brown and highly corrosive gas. The major sources of NOx in the Lower Fraser Valley are from on-road vehicle engines, air / rail / marine engines, non-road engines, industrial sources, heating (including residential wood burning). NOx emissions from Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-energy Facility account for 0.7% of the total emissions sources in 2014.
Why does Metro Vancouver test for PM2.5 & NOx emissions?
Metro Vancouver is aware of the medical and scientific research which says that exposure to PM2.5 and NOx without stringent control mechanisms can lead to variety of detrimental health and environmental outcomes. For that reason, these are key emissions we test for, not only from our Waste-to-Energy Facility, but also from all known sources of these pollutants in our region. The pie charts above have more detail of PM2.5 & NOx emission sources.
PDFs of other emission sources tested for by Metro Vancouver, and their performance history: