Swan Hills Treatment Centre

Continually increasing environmental laws and regulations in Canada and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s forced many treatment and disposal options for hazardous wastes to evolve. Despite the development of new technologies over the years, incineration continues to be the standard method to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including PCBs, dioxins/furans and other more ubiquitous hazardous waste compounds.

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In Canada, the Swan Hills Treatment Centre provides one of the best treatment and incineration of hazardous wastes solutions in North America.

The Swan Hills Treatment Centre (SHTC) is the only fully integrated facility in Canada and one of only a few in the world. Since its inception in 1987, it has played a principal role in treating many hazardous wastes – including PCBs, dioxins/furans and ozone depleting substances (ODS) – from across North America.

The plant’s footprint sits on about 320 acres of land, of which approximately 80 acres are fenced. The treatment facilities within the plant include a stabilization/solidification plant, a physical/ chemical facility to treat inorganic solid and liquid wastes, and a large rotary kiln incinerator for treatment of organic wastes.

Treatment residues from any process are carefully monitored and tested to ensure that all waste residuals have been rendered as non-hazardous materials. The non-hazardous solid residues are securely stored in site landfill cell built into the clay base and lined with high-density polyethylene that is rated for the containment of hazardous waste. Liquid residues are also tested to meet non-hazardous criteria and then injected into an on-site deep well.

The SHTC is licensed to achieve a Destructive Removal Efficiency (DRE) of 99.9% or six “nines” for incineration. Recent compliance testing indicates that DRE performance exceeds license requirements with a consistent rating of eight “nines” or 99.9% efficiency.

In addition to treatment facilities, the site is equipped to store bulk solids (700 cubic meters), bulk liquids (1,000,000 litre capacity) and drums (17,000 drum spaces). Wastes are inventoried at the facility using a bar-coding system which allow for complete cataloguing and workflow management.

The SHTC is remotely located 240 kilometers north west of Edmonton, Alberta, close to the town of Swan Hills. The facility was originally envisioned to accept a broad range of hazardous waste streams generated by a variety of hazardous waste producers exclusively from the province of Alberta. Over the years the mandate of the plant has expanded to include wastes from other jurisdictions across Canada and North America.

SHTC

The SHTC was the first voluntarily sited hazardous waste treatment facility in North America. Through an extensive public consultation process and community referendums, the facility received the support of the Town of Swan Hills and the surrounding area. Today the plant continues to receive the full support of the town and all of the local stakeholders including the neighboring First Nations communities.

The SHTC has one of the most expansive environmental monitoring programs in the world. As part of its recently renewed Alberta Environment 10 year operating approval, the plant monitors all of the major environmental receptors (air, water, land, animals) and reports on the results regularly to Alberta Environment and the neighboring stakeholders. With its world class environmental, health and safety management programs, the facility was recently able to pass the significant 1,000,000 man hour milestone without a lost time accident.

Today the SHTC remains a leader in the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste compounds from across North America. As the only licensed “full spectrum” PCB treatment and disposal facility in Canada, the only permitted facility in Canada to destroy ODS (CFCs and HCFCs) and the only licensed and permitted facility in North America to treat and destroy certain dioxin and furan contaminated materials, the SHTC continues to play an integral part in North America's hazardous waste treatment strategies.

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25 years