- BC Games
Wood pellet plant sparks worries, accolades
A proposed wood pellet plant hopes to pick up what Domtar left behind, but many Chase residents are concerned.
The Chase Community Hall was filled Tuesday afternoon, as residents gathered to hear information about Pinnacle and its proposed wood pellet mill.
Leroy Reitsma, president and co-owner, said the new plant, at the old mill site on Aylmer, would run off material left after Domtar shut down, including sawdust and shavings from the Adams Lake Mill.
The site would have four times the productivity of Pinnacle’s Armstrong mill, with Reitsma expecting seven to eight rail cars and 28 to 30 super B-Loads per day. This increase in traffic, both rail and road, concerned a number in attendance.
One resident said Chase has only two entrances and notes that neither are very good. He was concerned about the congestion that might occur with so many extra trucks coming in and out.
Others noted that there is already steady rail traffic causing problems for those who live here. The addition of more, especially at the Alymer Road crossing, was a worry. Reitsma was asked if his company would consider helping fund an overpass. Reitsma said the process is not that far along but he doesn’t think an overpass could be budgeted as they are costly. He agreed traffic would increase, but noted that easy access to their own rail line was the reason they are looking at the area.
Reitsma said they will try to develop procedures which ensure the public would be inconvenienced as little as possible. He said they will likely install lights or other safety precautions.
Reitsma said there would be few materials stored on site, explaining they will come from places such as Adam’s Lake and would be dumped directly into the mill. The materials would then be made into pellets and immediately shipped.
Reitsma does note that there would be a small silo on-site in case it was needed, but the intention is to ensure nothing stays at the site. This minimizes the risk of fire, which was a concern of a number of residents in the gallery.
Reitsma acknowledged they are selling combustible dust and the worries were valid, especially with the proximity of homes to the mill site. However, he ran through the number of procedures in place that minimize the risk of such an event. Another resident said the water lines on Alymer had not been upgraded in years, and would most likely not be of use to a pumper truck in the event of a large fire.
Reitsma said that in order to insure the mill, they would need to prove they could handle a fire, which would include testing the lines.
If the test showed the lines could not support the heavy use, Pinnacle would either build their own pool of water or invest in the infrastructure already in place.
Another resident yelled her opinions about an explosion which took place at their Armstrong site, with Reitsma stating the Workers Compensation Board had made mistakes in their report and that they had taken all required steps. Reitsma also noted they have since investigated the cause of the explosion and have changed their design and process. Reitsma also noted the mill was running again seven weeks after the explosion and redesign took place.
Other concerns of noise, light, water, air and environmental pollution were brought up by a number of residents, many of whom would be neighbours of the mill. Reitsma assured that measures would be taken to address concerns.
Along with many concerns, many others were in support of the mill itself. Reitsma said he expects 25 direct jobs to be created at the site, including the manager, accountant, and operators. He also noted about 15 trucking jobs would open up.
Elena Markin praised the company for bringing more employment options to the area so young people could stay. Her words were met with applause from many in the gallery.
A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the Chase Community Hall on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. following the committee of the whole meeting.