Canadian refinery co-op cleans up its act with water recycling plan

A co-op refinery from Canada will invest CAD $200m (£111m) in an environmental project to recycle its wastewater. The Co-op Refinery Complex covers 800 acres of land and...

A co-op refinery from Canada will invest CAD $200m (£111m) in an environmental project to recycle its wastewater.

The Co-op Refinery Complex covers 800 acres of land and distributes 17 million litres of petrol a day. It is is a subsidiary of Federated Co-operatives, a group of more than 200 retail co-ops from Western Canada.

The refinery was set up in the 1930s by a group of farmers in response to high fuel prices, supplying petrol for a small chain of Saskatchewan farmer-owned gas stations. It has grown from producing 500 barrels a day in 1935 to 130,000 barrels a day, making it the fourth biggest refinery in Canada and a major supplier of Western Canada’s fuel needs.

“Federated Co-operatives Limited has invested more than CAD$200m in ensuring the sustainability of water resources for both the refinery and the City of Regina,” said Scott Banda, chief executive of Federated Co-operatives Ltd. “This is significant investment that helps us realise our long-term vision focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

The Wastewater Improvement Project (WIP) will clean 100% of the refinery’s wastewater on site. Last year, figures provided by the co-op to the federal government showed that Co-op Refinery Complex released more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than any other refinery in Canada. In 2013 the co-op emitted 4,229 tonnes of VOCs, 10 times the amount emitted by the average refinery in Canada.

The co-op says the new project will help decrease VOC emissions from the refinery’s wastewater ponds and reduce nuisance odours. In addition, the project will help reduce the refinery’s reliance on fresh water resources by an estimated 28%, the equivalent of 3,100 Regina households on an annual basis.

“Being an industry leader in sustainability is a major part of our vision for the future of this refinery,” said Gill Le Dressay, vice-president of refinery operations. “By implementing the WIP and its leading-edge technology, we enhance our operations, reduce our environmental impact and benefit our community.”

The water cleaning and recycling process involves various stages that use a combination of live bacteria, special filtration units and high-efficiency reverse osmosis. The co-op expects the Wastewater Improvement Project to be fully operational in the autumn of 2016.

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