ADL’s conversion to natural gas sparks interest from public

Nancy MacPhee
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Testing part of almost $1 million change to its boiler system

SUMMERSIDE — Natural gas flames measuring several feet high, reaching into the sky in recent days behind Amalgamated Dairies Limited’s Water Street plant, shouldn’t be cause for concern, says the company’s CEO and general manager.

Workers were on site Monday at the location behind the ADL plant on Water Street where testing was done over the weekend of the company’s recently converted natural gas system.

The flames, spotted over the weekend, prompted at least one reader to snap a photo and send it into the paper Sunday evening.

But Jim Bradley said there should be no cause for alarm, adding that the flames, part of testing of a conversion of the company’s boiler system, pose no harm to those living nearby, noting the testing is safe and being monitored by a New Brunswick-based company that has been hired to do the work.  

ADL is currently in the midst of an almost $1 million conversion of the Water Street plant’s boiler system, which will see it move to using natural gas — a more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative as opposed to the light No. 2 furnace oil that was being used up to this point.

“As part of the commissioning or the installation of the equipment there is a series of tests and safety checks that have to be done with the installation of the equipment. The gas is flared off to the environment until it is ready to be moved into our boiler system,” explained Bradley. “We can’t just shut our boilers down. The plant is continuing to operate, so we can’t shut the boilers off to commission the whole line into the plant.

“The equipment outside is being tested to make sure that it is operating.”

ADL is following in the footsteps of the Cavendish Farms plant in New Annan, which converted its system over in 2012 to use natural gas.

The conversion, which will take several days to complete, won’t disrupt work at the plant, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, almost year round.

Irving Oil Ltd. will be ADL’s natural gas supplier.

“They set the flare up on Saturday. They were doing some work yesterday (Sunday) and it will probably be tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday that we hope to start bringing the fuel into the plant,” said Bradley, who noted the test flares have attracted some spectators. “There were a few visitors that dropped by yesterday afternoon on the street, the drive-byes. We had a couple of calls. We notified the fire department and the police and all the first responders in the city were notified last week that we were going to be doing it.”

Summerside Police Service’s Deputy Chief Sinclair Walker said his department didn’t receive any calls from the public regarding the flares.

Bradley said those living in the area of the plant are safe, adding emissions from natural gas are far safer than those from burning oil.

“If you go onto the Internet and look you will see the emissions from natural gas are minimal. It is one of the cleanest burning fuels there is. It is one of the reasons we did look at natural gas, aside from the fact that it is becoming available with Cavendish Farms being one of the major users,” he added. “With all that flaring, there’s a company that we have contracted, Fleetway (Facility Services) out of New Brunswick. They’re a professional group at it and it is all being overseen by Irving, themselves, as well as we have a project management group out of Ontario, Change Energy, who are helping bring the project online.”

That company is the same one that worked on the conversion at the Cavendish Farms facility.

“They’ve got lots of experience in the area and they’ve done some work on the Island before,” said Bradley. “We were comfortable going with them. They have a proven track record.”

ADL’s CEO added that natural gas is cheaper than the oil that had been used.

Bradley noted more testing of the system would likely be done on Tuesday.


Organizations: Irving Oil, Summerside Police Service

Geographic location: Water Street, New Annan, New Brunswick Ontario

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