December 23, 2015 - 6:30 PM
VERNON - Some local residents continue to ask questions about a wood pellet plant in Lavington.
The group Lavington is for Everyone (LIFE) issued a media release earlier this week stating there is still no scientific evidence of air quality improvement at the plant.
That’s at odds with the results of a mandatory test conducted by McCall Environmental on behalf of Pinnacle Renewable Energies, which suggested overall emissions have gone down thanks to new technology that came with the pellet plant.
The citizens group says it has several questions about the sufficiency of the test and the data supplied. It argues there was never any testing done before the changes at the mill to provide a benchmark for emissions.
“We are therefore now in a situation where no one can categorically say that our air quality has improved or that there has been a net reduction in emissions. The only information in the public domain for the Tolko planer emissions is information that Tolko itself has submitted under law to Environment Canada,” the group says.
The group has lobbied for an air quality monitoring station in Lavington and according to an email to infoNEWS.ca from the Ministry of Environment, one was installed in early November. The station is located at the Lavington Fellowship Baptist Church and measures particulate matter, as well as wind speed, ambient temperature and relative humidity. But while the station has been operating since Nov. 9, data has not yet been released to the public.
“Air Quality Meteorologists from the Air Quality Section are reviewing data from this monitor on a daily basis and will prepare a summary report bi-weekly. The ministry plans to make this data available in real-time on www.bcairquality.ca in the near future,” the Ministry said.
A follow up inquiry to the statement provided by the ministry asking why the data has not yet been released was not returned in time for publication.
Members of the citizens group are also appealing the Ministry of Environment’s decision to issue an operating permit for the plant. A two-week hearing is set for April 2016 in Vernon for the Environmental Appeal Board to hear the case.
“The central issue is not whether Pinnacle is using ‘best available technologies’ or not, but whether our airshed is capable of receiving additional tonnes of particulate matter. The evidence we have assembled indicates that it is not. Our Ministry of Environment should be protecting our health, not facilitating new emissions and restricting public input, as it appears to be doing,” the group says.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015