VERNON - The company behind a controversial wood pellet plant in Lavington says it has drastically reduced emissions.
Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group president Leroy Reitsma says the results of third-party testing by McCall Environmental show emissions are down 83 per cent thanks to new technology.
“What we’re running at compared to what we used to is night and day,” Reitsma says. “It’s the difference between an oxcart and a rocket ship in terms of technology.”
The new system filters the emissions from both the pellet plant, and the existing Tolko planer mill, reducing overall emissions at the site, Reitsma says.
Residents questioned the air quality shortly after the plant started running earlier this year due to perceived particulate matter above the facility, but Reitsma insists they have nothing to worry about.
“Now that we’ve got the test results we can say it’s just water vapour people are seeing there,” Reitsma says.
As part of its permit, the company is required to perform the same tests periodically as long as it operates. A Ministry of Environment operated air shed monitoring station is also in the works to measure overall air quality in the area.
But while Pinnacle is lauding the project as a success in terms of emissions reductions, the pellet plant still has its critics. A community group continues to call for a review of the Ministry of Environment’s decision to authorize an operating permit for the plant.
Resident Tom Coape-Arnold says a two-week hearing is scheduled in April with the Environmental Appeal Board. Coape-Arnold, a scientist, along with a local lawyer and engineer, are preparing their case with support from University of Victoria law students and West Coast Environmental Law.
“We’re not going in unprepared,” Coape-Arnold says. “We continue to think we have a strong case and look forward to actually getting before the board on this.”
The hearing has already been delayed several times due to issues with the province’s lawyers, Coape-Arnold says.
“We’re not going to get pushed around,” Coape-Arnold says.
The hearing is scheduled for two weeks beginning April 18, 2016 in Vernon at the Best Western Vernon Lodge, starting at 9 a.m each day.
The full report from McCall Environmental on the emissions testing can be downloaded here.
Previous stories on the pellet plant can be found here.
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