While welcoming the action, members of a Lavington group are questioning the results from recent stack testing at the neighbouring Pinnacle pellet plant.
“The Pinnacle stack testing is a requirement of the MOE, and we welcome finally some actual testing of emissions from this facility,” Lavington Is For Everyone states in a release.
But the group is questioning the sufficiency of the testing and data supplied, as well as an amendment of the Tolko Industries discharge permit, which it says is under review by MOE.
“LIFE for over a year called for stack testing of the Tolko planer mill stacks before changes to the emission treatment technology were made at that mill, and for monitoring of our local air quality for a reasonable period of time before construction of the Pinnacle plant,” LIFE states.
Tom Coape-Arnold, a spokesperson for the group, says: “Since the Tolko planer cyclone emissions were never measured (despite community requests, which MOE and Tolko rejected) before changing the emission treatment at the Lavington mill, no one can say with certainty that there is an improvement in air quality in the airshed.”
The group maintains that total PM 2.5 emissions have actually gone up in the area, if the recent tests are compared to public information that Tolko submitted to Environment Canada.
“Pinnacle and others appear to be confusing changes in permitted maximum levels of discharge with data on actual discharges,” states LIFE in the press release.
“Lavington LIFE continues to hold the position that there is no scientific evidence of air quality improvement since the opening of the pellet plant.”
Some residents are also complaining of a strong odour from Pinnacle during inversion or stagnant air conditions, increased truck and rail traffic and idling adjacent to Lavington Elementary, significantly greater light pollution, and continuing noise concerns.
“The District of Coldstream needs to deal in an effective manner with these issues and has not,” states LIFE, which says it welcomes the recently installed air quality monitor at the Lavington Fellowship Baptist Church,.
“We cannot understand why monitoring has been going on for nearly a month, with no data as yet released to the public.”
LIFE is also concerned with the repeated deferrals of the appeal hearings under the Environmental Appeal Board legislation.
Hearings originally scheduled for September 2015, have been deferred twice at the request of the Ministry of Justice, and are now scheduled for April 2016.
“LIFE continues to strongly support the appeal of the Pinnacle permit as launched by three of its members,” states the group.
“LIFE’s position all along has been that scientific evidence, properly assembled and assessed should be at the core of any decisions by the Ministry of Environment to issue discharge permits. This is particularly true in valleys such as ours that are constrained air sheds.
The group insists it is supportive of jobs and the use of forest material in the local economy.
“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,” it states.
“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.”