First NRG, a company based in Hogansburg, N.Y., on the St. Regis Mohawk reserve, plans to build thermal treatment plants on native lands in order to treat and dispose of Ontario garbage.
According to an article in the Globe & Mail newspaper, the company’s founders say they are backed by “native cigarette manufacturers” and have had discussions about their gasification technology with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the vice-president of Sudan and Cuban officials. They also say they have won half of a $1-billion deal to process garbage in Jakarta.
Simon Romana, a New Zealander who says he is the inventor of the firm’s gasification technology, says the “thermal reduction” turns solid waste into gas that is then used to create electricity.
The company says it has a $60-million contract with unnamed companies to treat and destroy millions of tonnes of Toronto-area waste, and says former Washington mayor Marion Barry — famously re-elected after a conviction for cocaine possession — is a supporter.
The company plans to build two plants on reserves in Canada: one at Oneida Nation near London, Ontario and the other on Cornwall Island on the Akwesasne reserve, across the U.S.-Canada border from St. Regis.
The plants will be able to process 1.5 million tonnes — and perhaps double that eventually — of residential waste per year from Toronto and other GTA municipalities, with the Oneida plant starting up at the beginning of June.
Currently all of Toronto’s residential waste is shipped to a Michigan landfill under a long-term contract with Republic Services, which has had no dealings with First NRG. Senior Toronto officials say they have had no contact with First NRG.
Construction has yet to begin at the Oneida site, but the company plans to have it up and running by June. The Akwesasne site could open six months later. The facilities need no special government approvals or environmental assessments, the company says, because they would be on native land.
Leaders of the Akwesasne band council say they have not received any application for a gasification plant on their lands.
First NRG says it has demonstrated the technology with a $1.5-million truck-bed mounted unit. Marion Barry, now a representative in Washington, has worked with the company to try and land a deal with the District of Columbia to build gasifiers to process 1,200 tonnes of municipal sewage sludge.