Durham Regional Council recently voted to pursue an amendment the existing Environmental Certificate of Approval (ECA) for the York Durham Energy Centre (DYEC), also commonly referred to as the Covanta incinerator after the company that designed, built, and operates it.  An application for an amendment to the ECA will be sought from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) to allow an increase the annual feedstock of municipal waste to increase to 160,000 tonnes from the current 140,000 tonnes.

According to documents present to Region Durham Council, the existing Waste-to-Energy facility would be able to accommodate the increased tonnage of waste with no requirement for physical expansion.  A staff report presented to Council stated: “This interim solution could meet the waste management needs of Durham residents for an additional three to five years.”

The staff report noted that increasing the capacity would save an estimated $1.3 million in the first year and an additional $2.1 million in future years, because of increased revenues from electricity and metals, as well as avoiding the cost for disposing of bypass waste to landfill.

If the province approves a 20,000 tonnes a year increase at the DYEC, Durham would get 15,000 tonnes of the extra capacity, while York Region would get the remaining 5,000 tonnes. 

Background on the DYEC

The DYEC is a waste management facility that produces energy from the combustion of municipal solid waste from the Regions of York and Durham. Durham is a Regional Municipality immediately east of Toronto and has a population of 645,000. It is made up of Whitby, Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, and rural townships. York Region is immediately north of Toronto and has a population 1.1 million. It is made up of the City of Markham, City of Vaughan, and other towns and townships.

The DYEC processes 140,000 tonnes per year of municipal solid waste that remains after maximizing waste diversion programs – reducing, reusing, recycling and composting – in Durham and York Regions. Councils from both Durham and York Regions endorsed Energy from Waste (EFW) in 2006 as the best long-term, local and sustainable option for final disposal of residential garbage.

Major Components of the DYEC

The DYEC facility consists of the following major processes and support units:
Two identical combustion trains, each having a nominal capacity of 218 tonnes of waste per day venting into the atmosphere via a common exhaust stack, having an exit diameter of 1.71 metres, extending 87.6 metres above grade.

Each combustion train is an independent process train and it consists of a stoker grate steam boiler, equipped with a natural gas fired auxiliary low NOx burner, and air pollution control equipment.

The following air pollution control equipment:

  1. A Selective Non Catalytic Reduction System (SNCR System) with ammonia injection for NOx control;
  2. An activated carbon injection system, to reduce mercury and dioxins in flue gas;
  3. A dry recirculation lime injection scrubber to control acid gases; and
  4. A pulse jet type baghouse to control particulate emissions;

There is one steam turbine generator set having a rated capacity of 20 Megawatts.

There is a fly ash conditioning system and two pugmills. There is also a bottom ash sorting system which includes screens, a rotary drum magnet, and an eddy current separator.