The proposed pellet plant in Lavington has been given the seal of approval from the Ministry of Environment.
On Wednesday, a ministry representative made a presentation to Vernon School District trustees.
“The ministry’s mandate is to protect the environment,” said Cassandra Caunce, director of environmental protection for the southern interior region. “Our approach to permitting is to use the cleanest available technologies that are economically feasible.”
Caunce said it is expected that newer dryer technologies will enable the ministry to set more protective emission standards.
“B.C. really is the envy of many other jurisdictions,” she said.
Tolko Industries has entered into a conditional partnership with Pinnacle Renewable Energies to construct a pellet plant next to the existing Tolko planer mill in Lavington.
And, while construction has begun, local residents and members of Lavington Is For Everyone (LIFE) filed an appeal with the Environmental Appeal Board over health and traffic concerns.
The plant would process sawdust and shavings from the Lavington mill and other mills in the egion.
While the school district has no jurisdiction on whether or not the plant is built, LIFE has urged trustees to join the fight and to join its appeal of the operating permit.
Trustee Robert Lee expressed his concerns about the plant being located so close to Lavington Elementary.
“My first responsibility is to the health and safety of our kids,” he said.
Caunce said there will not be any health issues surrounding the pellet plant.
“Based on the science we have and the expertise we have, the plant will go forward in a way that will improve air quality as a result of the upgraded pollution control equipment,” she said.
The permit is under approval right now, with a hearing set for the end of September. Once the go-ahead is given, the ministry will install air quality monitors on site.
“My concern is for children and their ability to be healthy in our schools and I’m not feeling reassured,” said trustee Mollie Bono.