Meet the Mayor
October 15, 2014
Do we? Do we not? Should we? Should we not? Will we? Will we not?
Some decisions do not come easily – especially if they potentially affect the view or the air quality or some other vital element of community life.
For the last couple of years Council has been tantalized by the prospect of a new industry coming to town – specifically a wood pellet manufacturing plant. Canfor has submitted the application for a development permit. This means that Council had to make a decision. Not easy.
The proposal meets all minimum standards set by the Ministry of Environment for air quality and other potential hazards. Does it meet the standards we set for our home town?
Here are the major questions that we wrestled with over months: How will air quality be affected? What are the visual implications? What kinds and volumes of emissions will be generated? Will industrial noise be increased?
Our latest research took us to Germany by telephone to the Mayor of a town that is host to an identical plant. We believe that we have garnered sufficient information to support a decision to issue the development permit. We want to share with you the reasons for our decision.
The heating and generating plant is equivalent to two of the plant already operating on the Canfor site. The present Canfor step-grate furnace consumes only hog fuel; it emits no visible effluent. The pellet plant would burn the same type of fuel produced at the Canfor sawmill.
Noise levels are not loud or irritating. The major noise source is the hammer mill used to reduce the fiber to small particles for compressing into pellets. This cannot be heard outside its building. In fact, with the new plant situated between the present mill and the residential area, noise may actually be reduced at the closest residences.
Some of you have been unpleasantly impressed with the sight and odour of the pellet plant beside Highway 97 south of Prince George. With good reason. Using modern technology, the proposed Chetwynd plant will exhibit none of these characteristics. The plan allows for storage of a maximum of five day’s supply of raw material. The storage will be inside, undercover, sheltered from wind and rain. No smell except the ordinary, pleasant smell of wood. Enclosed conveyors will transport material from mill to storage to mill.
Emissions will be of two kinds: white steam from the belt dryer (like we see from the kilns on a cold winter day); and all-but-invisible combustion emissions, pre-treated by two precipitators in series to remove particulate.
My conclusion reached after these months is that this plant will have a net positive affect on air quality, dust levels, odours, and noise in the area. It is essentially a green industry with a carbon-neutral product.
The plant will employ between 12 and 20 high-paid workers for years to come plus spin-off effect and will be an important factor in keeping the Canfor mill competitive.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor