Business as usual?

There’s a 36 year tradition of pouring air pollution out just upwind of Smithers and those fine folks at Pinnacle Renewable Energy are clearly carrying on business as usual. The BC Ministry of Environment operates a very useful pollution monitoring station at St. Josephs School in Smithers and the data gathered is archived at You wouldn’t say the user interface is very intuitive but it does work and is pretty quick.

Out of curiosity about whether the new pellet manufacturing was having an effect on PM2.5 levels here, a date range was chosen up to November 25th 2018 that started after the big-time fire smoke, so settled on September 1st to November 25th. The average 1 hour PM2.5 reading for that period was 10.8 micrograms per cubic metre. Over the same date range from 2014 to 2017 the value was 8.45 and for the two years 2012 and 2013 we measured 10.3.

A picture is worth a thousand micrograms so…

Column 1 was added to make the other columns start at zero for better comparing.

And here we see that column 2, from years 2012 and 2013, is taller (more pollution) than column 3 (years 2014-2017, a 22% drop) and column 4 is from 2018, a rebound of 27%, somewhat higher than when Smithers was blessed with a particleboard plant. So yes, Pinnacle IS carrying on business as usual.

Three dryer stacks:

permit appeal filing

Can be found here. Weird form bug makes type tiny, the little text is, "This permit amendment has been analysed and determined to be a public health hazard by Dr. Elizabeth Bastian GP Oncologist with Northern Health and ought not to have been approved. It prejudices my health and that of others in a highly discriminatory way. My Charter rights and those of others under section 7 have been breached by this decision."

what gets released into the air in a panelboard plant fire?

December 5, 2016

A fire was extinguished quickly by Smithers firefighters at NewPro late Sunday night. The fire was called in shortly before midnight. No injuries have been reported.

It took the firefighters less than two hours to get the fire under control. No word yet on what caused the fire, damage, or when employees may be able to return to work.

more at the Interior News and a link as well to other recent news.

we are part of the problem

From an interview with Dave Jacobs of NEWPRO in The Interior News July 6, 2016, p. A3

Jacobs said he understands the concerns about emissions from the plant.

“I am not so naive that I would say oh, we are not a part of the problem, because of course we are,” he said. “Anything that emits. The minute you start up your car you are part of the problem. So we are not so foolish as to think we have nothing to do with it.”

This article appears to not have been posted yet online, we'll link to it when it's available.

what’s Newpro doing now?

What’s Newpro up to now?


From 15 June, 2016 at 10:22PM

What’s in the plume? Well according to their 2013 NPRI report, methanol, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter of various sizes (37 tonnes) beta-pinene, formaldehyde (16 tonnes) and alpha pinene. The finished product comes with its own
material safety data sheet

Let’s see what the wikipedia has to say about this stuff, eh?
Methanol is poisonous to the central nervous system and may cause blindness, coma, and death.
For the public, chronic exposure to NO2
can cause respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma.
Within short time scales, carbon monoxide absorption is cumulative, since the half-life is about 5 hours in fresh air. Carbon monoxide is a toxic (poisonous) gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect.
The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans and animals include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, premature delivery, birth defects, and premature death.
In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”.

Aaaand the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says, “There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of wood dust… especially during machine sanding and similar operations.”

note respirator and protective suit

cool or what?

Pinnacle Pellet announces immediate operations curtailment

Quesnel Cariboo Observer

posted May 31, 2016 at 9:31 AM

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. announced today (May 31) that it will curtail operations at its Quesnel pellet plant effective immediately.

There are a number of factors that have gone into the decision. Key among them are that the plant, first opened in 1988, was designed to process a diet of dry residuals from the local sawmills.

“That source of fibre is no longer available,” said Leroy Reitsma, President of Pinnacle.

boo-hoo, logged it all off and now you’re out of work.

more at the Observer

oh yeah, and this too – click the image of Pinnacle’s big customer

Drax power station

seems Drax spent £700m  converting to biomass and now there isn’t any.

Any connection with this Financial Times snippet?


In price terms this means Drax shares crashed from 800 to 200 pounds in two years.