Burns Lake Pinnacle Pellet emissions follow up

The Ministry of Environment is still keeping tabs on Burns Lake Pinnacle Pellet emissions following a troubled commissioning phase.

With regard to Hugh Neave’s column published in the Lakes District News edition of May 23, 2012, Lakes District News has followed up with local residents concerns over Pinnacle Pellet emissions with the Ministry of Environment.

Suntanu Dalal, Ministry of Environment communications officer said, “The concerns expressed by residents regarding white plumes are almost certainly related to particulate in the air shed. The white part of the plume is steam which evaporates, revealing a grey or blue haze, depending on the location and angle of the sun relative to the plume, which are the particles. Problems with Pinnacle Pellet’s suspension burner for the dryer and wet scrubbers have caused particulate emissions to be visible for considerable distances from the plant,” he said.

According to Dalal, the Ministry of Environment has recently installed an ambient fine particulate (PM2.5) and meteorological monitoring station eight kilometres Northwest of Pinnacle Pellet. “Air quality data over the past two weeks indicates particulate concentrations at that location have been elevated in the morning hours, specifically between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. During these times, wind has been coming from the direction of the pellet plant. Despite the relatively high hourly concentrations, they have not persisted long enough to cause exceedances of the B.C. 24 hour objective for PM 2.5. The highest measured 24 hour average concentrations were about 50 per cent of the objective. As a result, the ministry has not needed to issue air quality advisories for the vicinity of the pellet plant,” he said.

Dalal said that Ministry of Environment staff meet weekly with Pinnacle Pellet staff to discuss the status of the wet scrubber and dryer upgrades.

“As of June 1, 2012, Pinnacle Pellet has completed the upgrades to the suspension burner for the dryer and Pinnacle Pellet has committed to a July 30, 2012, start-up date for the upgraded wet scrubber system.”

“The Ministry of Environment has conveyed its concerns regarding high particulate concentrations in the morning hours and that this situation cannot continue. The ministry will be reviewing the effectiveness of operational improvements over the next two weeks in conjunction with data coming from the nearby monitoring station and will re-evaluate it’s regulatory position at that point,” Dalal added.

Lorne Davies, Pinnacle Pellet’s corporate safety and environmental officer said to Lakes District News that the company is continuing to work in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment.

“We are not saying that the white plume people are seeing is all smoke, a huge percentage of that plume is water vapour, but we are also not disputing that there is things that are still not 100 per cent. More changes will be happening and more equipment is coming in, so hopefully we can get the issues sorted out,” he said.