Councillor states case for plant

Maria Besso comes out in support of pellet plant planned for Lavington

There has been a lot of emotional debate surrounding the proposed Pinnacle pellet plant in Lavington. In my view, and past experience, it is necessary to listen before you speak, then gather your facts and make a rational decision.

We live in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains. Valleys, unlike the prairies, or the coast, tend to have poor air venting, and may experience inversions and cloud cover in the winter.

The air dispersion modeling study conducted by Jeff Lundgren, of RWDI Consulting Engineers, concluded that the maximum predicted concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 to be produced by the plant, were far less than the most stringent objectives.

However, it also concluded that background level of concentration for the PM2.5 particles was already at 97 per cent of the permissible provincial air quality objective, so when you add the predicted new emissions from the pellet plant to the background emissions, you exceed the provincial air quality objective for PM 2.5  by 0.1 microgram per cubic meter at Lavington School.

Quote from RDWI Report, “The (total) annual PM 2.5 concentration at Lavington school of  8.1 exceeded the annual PM2.5 objective of eight, based on a background concentration of 7.75.” There were no other exceedances predicted at other sensitive receptors modeled in the area.

We live in a valley and province that are badly in need of good jobs and tax revenue to fund our world-class health, education and social programs. Everywhere you turn, people are demanding more services from government.

The forest industry has traditionally been, and will continue to be, a key driver of the North Okanagan economy as well as a significant contributor to government revenues at all levels.

The technology proposed for this pellet plant is state-of-the-art. There are more than 3,000 installations in operation in Europe, and, I believe, only three prototypes in North America. If built in Lavington, the pellet plant, could serve as a model and example, for the growth of green technology throughout North America.

Most pellet plants in B.C. use wood fired heating systems to power rotary drying systems. By contrast, this pellet plant will use natural gas as a heat source, instead of wood fire heating, and low temperature bed drying, which has an introductory drying temperature of 130 degrees Celsius resulting in an emission concentration guaranteed by the manufacture to be less than 10 mg/M3, based on their experience with over 3,000 installations in operation.

The proposed location for the pellet plant is on a seven-acre site across the CN rail track, from the existing Tolko planer mill in Lavington. The Coldstream official community plan has had the whole area where the planer mill is and where the former glass plant was, designated as industrial for longer than most residents can remember.

The seven-acre site  borders on about 190 acres of industrial land, and for the last 30 years, five acres (of the total seven) had been used to store the wood chip pile, essentially an industrial use, allowed as non-farm use by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

The company has done its best to compensate agricultural interests in B.C. through its rezoning application and received approval from the ALC, which is rare and difficult to do.

There is no question in my mind that the background levels of particulate matter are very high in the Vernon, and Coldstream valleys.

The concern that parents have in Lavington should be shared by parents of children at schools in Lumby, Armstrong and Vernon. There are many bad air quality days.

Instead of opposing and hampering all industry, because any industrial development will bring you over the thresholds (background levels are already at 97 per cent), we should welcome the efforts of Tolko and Pinnacle to have private industry, bring, and keep, good jobs in our area.

We should require very stringent air monitoring, with reporting available to the public as well as council, as part of the Ministry of the Environment’s environmental permit conditions.

Further, we should embark on a regional effort to monitor and lower the background particulate emissions valley wide, because we may find that a wood stove exchange program and bylaws would have a greater positive effect on the air quality than turning away a state of the art pellet plant, and a $40 million investment in our economy.

Maria Besso,

Coldstream councillor