City staff

City staff

Mayor and city staff tour Pinnacle Pellet

Clad in safety vests and hard hats, the mayor, a councillor and senior staff recently toured Pinnacle Pellet in Williams Lake.

Clad in safety vests and hard hats, the mayor, a councillor and senior staff recently toured Pinnacle Pellet in Williams Lake.

One of the first questions asked was where does the smoke come from?

“That’s the question that everyone asks,” said plant manager Ron Myhre during the tour. “It’s basically steam and small fine particulates from the drying process.”

About 90 per cent of the steam is water vapour drying out of the fibre used to make the pellets.

Depending on how hot the drier is, if there are particulates in there that are small and too dry, they will actually burn and you’ll see a small flash, said Lorne Davies, director of safety environment.

“Because the particulates are so small, when they show up in the sunlight sometimes they will be blue. That gives you what we call smoke. It’s actually like the drier exhaust you see coming out of your house,” Davies said.

When the fibre is pushed through the die to make the pellets it is compressed about nine times, he explained.

“As a result of that pressure we actually crush the wood cells, but there is nothing added to the fibre, no glue, no chemicals, nothing.”

The company measures its emissions through stack tests conducted every quarter.

“The first half of the test is everything that gets caught in the filter and the second half is the very small stuff, like the particulates,” Myhre said.

Emissions also pass through a large bag house, similar to a vacuum cleaner, before they go out into the air, he added.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said the city receives more smoke complaints about Pinnacle Pellet than any other industry in Williams Lake, but said those complaints have lessened in the last couple of years.

Myrhe responded that a number of changes have been made to clean up the plant, including installing a large fence to keep fugitive dust contained.

“We’re also working on getting a hood to attach to the end of our tipper this year and we’re also looking at another compound to store fibre,” he said.

Pinnacle has planted some trees on site to act as a filter, and is hoping to install more sprinkling systems and pave more areas.

“Depending on the day and the weather, we sometimes see the valley filled with smoke,” Rathor said. “What precautions can you take to eliminate more smoke?” he asked.

Myrhe said presently engineering is underway to build a stack that is 40 metres taller or twice the height of the existing one.

He did not want to give a hard date for the new stack, but said Pinnacle has been working on the plans since last fall.

“The stack has been made, we’re just waiting for the foundation plans to be completed, and then we will come to the city with a full plan that you guys can see,” Myrhe said.

The plant runs between five to six loaded rail cars a day, three per shift, or 600 metric tons.

It takes 30 B-train loads a day to maintain production, seven days a week, with fibre coming from 11 mills throughout the region, six in the Williams Lake area.

The plant in Williams Lake produces 200,000 metric tons of pellets a year which represents a sixth of the company’s entire output from all of its plants.

In 2004, the plant was developed in Williams Lake predominantly to serve the overseas market in Western Europe’s big utility companies.

“At the time it was considered a pioneering effort,” said Pinnacle’s vice president of business development Craig Lodge.

“Unlike Canada, Europe doesn’t have an abundance of fossil fuels so a lot of European companies who were using coal but wanting to gain some environmental improvements started experimenting with firing wood pellets.”

Less than five per cent of Pinnacle’s overall market goes to homes through what’s called the “bag market.”

Representatives from those markets also come and inspect the site in Williams Lake regularly to make sure the company is meeting corporate goals.

Mayor Kerry Cook said the tour was initiated by Myrhe.

“I had met with him a month or so ago,” Cook recalled. “I thought the tour was very informative. It was good to see new capital improvements in place.”

Cook also said Pinnacle Pellet will appear as a delegation to city council in the fall.


Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

(File photo)
Firearms investigation on Winger Road the result of increased gang activity: RCMP

When police attempted to stop a vehicle, it sped away

Shearwater is located in the Great Bear Rainforest on the West Coast of B.C. (Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association photo)
Heiltsuk Nation buys historic Shearwater Resort and Marina

Chief Marilyn Slett said Heiltsuk Nation has always valued its relationship with the company

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read