Trustees Mollie Bono and John Armstrong listen to a presentation about a pellet plant during a school board meeting Tuesday.

Trustees Mollie Bono and John Armstrong listen to a presentation about a pellet plant during a school board meeting Tuesday.

Pellet plant decision deferred

School District to consider all opinions before deciding whether it supports a proposed pellet plant next to Lavington Elementary

The Vernon School District will consider all opinions before deciding whether it supports a proposed pellet plant next to Lavington Elementary.

About 20 parents and children asked the board Tuesday to officially oppose Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s bid for a pellet plant because of the potential health impact on students at the school.

However, three trustees were absent at Tuesday’s special meeting and chairperson Bill Turanski says the matter won’t be considered further until all trustees are present.

“We will review all of the information we’ve been given, including from Pinnacle and we will make a decision,” he said.

The next regular board meeting is Sept. 24, but a special meeting could be called.

Even if the school board opposes Pinnacle’s application to the Ministry of Environment to discharge emissions into the environment, Turanski isn’t sure trustees have any influence.

“I don’t know what impact it will have on the ministry,” he said.

On Tuesday, a new organization called Lavington Is For Everyone asked trustees to pursue an environmental assessment of the pellet plant proposal, including potential hazards for Lavington Elementary students and staff.

The group also wants Pinnacle’s technical data subjected to a peer review.

“We need an independent, respected peer review to hear all of the data,” said Tom Coape-Arnold, LIFE spokesperson.

Coape-Arnold insists that particulate matter and fugitive dust could pose a risk to students because the school is 278 metres away from the site of the proposed plant.

“White Valley is a narrow valley known for inversions and poor air quality,” he said.

Coape-Arnold says his group is not opposed to industrial activities, but just not next to the school.

“There are lots of suitable sites for this facility,” he said.

One parent told the board that there is a perceived risk for children from pellet dust.

“I’m already wanting to move my children from Lavington,” she said.

Other concerns revolve around noise, light pollution and truck and railroad traffic.

“School Road is very busy already with no sidewalks. Speed will continue to be a problem,” said parent Michelle Casanova.