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$14 million announced for Semiahmoo First Nation renewable natural gas facility

‘Much to do’ before project breaks ground, officials say
Semiahmoo First Nation officials say the proposed RNG project will help address Metro Vancouver’s ‘waste management crisis.’ (File photo)

A Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) facility proposed for Semiahmoo First Nation reserve lands will divert 70,000 tons of organic food waste from area landfills and incinerators annually, as well as create multiple jobs, officials say.

The project – made public last month, following a June 27 announcement by Natural Resources Canada of $14.4 million in federal support for it – will also eliminate around 55,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, generate 3.5 million gigajoules of RNG and help avoid the use of some 22,000 tons of chemical fertilizers every year.

“It is our inherent responsibility to protect and preserve our traditional territories,” a news release issued by SFN on July 12 states.

“Through the proposed development… Semiahmoo First Nation is actively addressing the waste management crisis in Metro Vancouver, lowering GHG emissions, and displacing harmful fossil fuels. “

READ ALSO: Electricity demand in B.C. expected to increase by 15% by 2030

Exactly when the “anaerobic digestion facility” will be built is not clear.

SFN officials said while the federal funding will help move the project forward, there is still “much to do” before ground can be broken, including assuring neighbours and anyone with concerns that guidelines and environmental standards are being adhered to.

The technology chosen “also ensures that the facility can comfortably co-exist within the existing community.”

In a June 27 news release issued by Andion North America – the Vancouver-based company working on the project with SFN – the facility is described as the first major economic development project on the reserve, which is located along Semiahmoo Bay, between the boundary of White Rock/South Surrey and the Canada-U.S. border at Peace Arch Provincial Park.

In that release, Andion CEO Phillip Abrary said the facility will be of “enormous value to the local communities, both environmentally and economically.” It will reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill, and convey the resulting biomethane via existing gas pipelines.

A byproduct of the process will be a nutrient-rich soil amendment than can be used on local farms and replace synthetic fertilizers, Abrary added.

Andion has delivered more than 50 biogas facilities over the past two decades, the release notes.

SFN officials said a process of “extreme due diligence” was undertaken in deciding to work with Andion, including visiting some of the company’s projects in Europe. All of its projects were completed “without incident or disruption to the neighbouring communities,” the band’s release notes.

The $14.4 million funding was announced as part of more than $100 million in initial investments committed by a “groundbreaking Collaboration Framework” between the federal and provincial governments and the First Nations Leadership Council.

According to a government news release, Regional Energy and Resource Tables look to “align efforts and seize key economic opportunities enabled by the global shift to net zero.”

In B.C., six strategic areas of opportunity have been identified: clean fuels/hydrogen, electrification, critical minerals, forest sector, carbon management technology and systems, and regulatory efficiency.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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