Representatives of Pinnacle Pellet were available to answer questions from the public as it seeks an air amendment application to allow for upgrades in Williams Lake.
The four-hour open house held Thursday at the Tourism Discovery Centre was well attended.
With display charts providing an overview of the project and its benefits as well as air emissions, MyCaribooNow asked Director Energy and Environment, Paul Pawlowski if there will be an increase of fine particulate matter.
“There’s going to be a higher volume of emissions coming out of the plant, but they’re going to be much diluted,” Pawlowski said.
“With a rotary system that is permitted at 60 mg/m³ we’re able to permit the bed dryer at a level that is four times less than that so the permit level is going to be 15 mg/m³, but the plant is actually going to operate consistently with what we’ve seen at our other bed dryers in Smithers as well as in Lavington where we’ve seen emission results between 5 to 7 mg/m³ which is on an order of magnitude that is ten times less than the 60 that is essentially the guideline for wood drying systems in BC.”
Pawlowski said by adding a bed dryer they will be able to separate the drying of their sawdust and shavings, and it should improve a somtimes noticeable ‘blue haze’.
“Today we’re limited in our drying system in that we need to mix our dry material with our wet materials so that if we don’t get the mix exactly right or if the temperature gets a little bit too hot we could overdry some of the shavings that essentially go into the dryer,” he said.
“We really need to dry to eight percent and it becomes challenging when you have two types of fibre going in at drastically different moisture contents to get it down to that eight percent so we’ll have much better control with having two drying systems.”
Based on modeling completed at the direction of the Ministry of Environment and with their consultants, RWDI, Pawlowski said air quality in and around the facility is largely going to remain the same.
“Typically in a permit when a new system is approved, in our last facility as an example in Smithers, we were required to test the system quarterly for a year in order to verify that the emissions that are coming out of the plant are in line with our permit and that would be the expectation here as well,” Pawlowski added.
Pinnacle Pellet is seeking to upgrade its baghouse, improvements to the stack, and the addition of an authorized source low-temperature bed dryer. It’s also planning on paving majority of the site to help reduce dust.
If the air amendment application is approved by the Ministry of Environment, the $20 million dollars in upgrades will result in 90,000 man hours of construction over a five to six month period.
“There are tough questions that we have to look at in the future,” Vice President of Fibre and Sustainability, Jason Fisher said on if Pinnacle does not get the go ahead.
“We’re making it work today, but we really think that this upgrade would be able to make us more resilient in the future to whatever comes as far as fibre supply and help make us an important part of this community and a pillar of its economy.”
Still Not Ready to Make a Decision On Supporting Air Amendment Application Says Cobb
Attending Thursday’s open house was Mayor Walt Cobb and other members of Council.
Cobb said he does not yet have all the information he needs to determine whether or not he will be providing support to Pinnacle’s air amendment application.
“We had a meeting earlier in the afternoon with the Ministry of Environment and asked a whole bunch of questions and you’ve got to be able to tell us in layman’s terms what this means. I mean it’s great to sees all these graphs and all these acronyms, but it’s really hard to understand,” Cobb said.
“I said to them the general public is not going to understand this because we don’t totally understand it.”
Cobb said until they get that message in plain English so they can understand what the contaminants will be or what it will end up, they can’t make a decision on it.
“One of the things we brought up at Council the other night was the fact the dust and all, while that’s not even part of the permit,” he said.
“The only thing that this permit is dealing with is what comes out of the stack. It doesn’t deal with the dust, it doesn’t deal with the sawdust, it doesn’t deal with the all the rest of the stuff that we’re going to have to deal with is the City keeping the roads clean.”
Council agreed this week to hold off on writing a letter of support.
Cobb said he believes the public comment which closes on April 7, 2019, will likely be extended to give people more time.
“What people don’t understand is they think we get to make the decision. We don’t get to make the decision,” Cobb said.
“It doesn’t matter who it is. If it’s an environmental process we’re saying before anything happens we will agree to subject to them meeting the environmental standards. If we get the information we need we might just say fine we agree with, but until we have that information we’re not prepared to do it.”