Frustrations are being aired over a lack of air quality monitoring with Lavington’s new pellet plant up and running.
Many Lavington residents are concerned about potential air quality impacts in the area with the newly constructed Pinnacle pellet plant.
“I am in absolute shock and disgust at what has been spewing out into the air since Pinnacle started up their plant,” said Jennifer Brown, a Lavington resident who has filed complaints over air quality and noise.
But Pinnacle president and COO Leroy Reitsma assures residents that there are significant air quality improvements being made with the new plant in place versus the old system of collecting shavings.
“It’s night and day better than what it used to be,” said Reitsma, of the plant which started up Sept. 30 but just started producing pellets last week. “I haven’t seen anything that causes me any concern, but we are still making adjustments.
“The emissions level that we’re seeing looks really good.”
He does admit that there are louder than promised noise levels, which will be fixed.
“We are working on a plan to quickly address those,” said Reitsma.
One direct neighbour is pleased with the plant, saying, “it looks like it’s fairly clean burning.”
Robyn Dalziel has lived next to the site for 25 years and says whatever is coming from the stacks is steam, not smoke. And she is looking forward to not having an inch of sawdust covering her fields every spring.
“I think this (new plant) has helped rather than hurt,” said Dalziel.
The frustration some other residents have is that promises were made long ago to put an air quality monitoring station in, but nothing has transpired.
Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick says there are still plans to get the station installed, whether it be at the fire hall, elementary school or another location.
“We did meet with the minister (Mary Polak, environment) and talked about the monitoring at the pellet plant,” said Garlick.
“We discussed the monitoring of the plant and additional monitoring in the region. MoE supports monitoring the plant and plans to have the monitor in place by the end of November.”
But Brown questions how residents are supposed to compare air quality when the station wasn’t installed before the new plant started up.
Others share similar frustrations.
“The citizens of Lavington have been more than patient on this matter,” said resident Tom Coape-Arnold.
“Despite numerous public promises made by the MoE (Ministry of Environment) director of the time, (Coldstream’s) resolution that there be ambient air quality monitoring, and the inclusion of air quality monitoring as a requirement of the permit issued to Pinnacle, we have a facility that has commenced operations and no air quality monitoring going on.”