Photo: The Regional District will be holding a public meeting to discuss a wood pellet manufacturing operation near Fort St. John./Kimberley Molina

 

A local resident has raised concerns with the Peace River Regional District over noise problems with a wood pellet manufacturing operation just outside of Fort St. John.

It’s a steady, loud drone of motors operating six days a week for more than 12 hours a day, says Linda Vopicka, talking about the Rogers Trucking operation located near 100 Ave. and the Swanson Lumber Rd.

Vopicka says that just last Friday, the noise was audible from around 6:15 a.m. until after 9 p.m.

President of Rogers Trucking Curtis Rogers says the first time he was made aware of any complaints was when officials from the Regional District asked to inspect the facility in late March. However, Rogers says he was also recently told some residents were concerned about the operation expanding and potentially lowering property values in the area. He says the manufacturing operation will not be expanding any further.

The main problem comes down to the fact that the area around the manufacturing is zoned as ‘I1’, light industrial, but any type of manufacturing operation requires an I2, heavy industrial, classification. Rogers says the company has applied for an amendment to the current zone around the property. He says the only reason he can tell that the operation would be classified as heavy industrial is because of the word ‘manufacturing.’

Rogers says the company gets its wood product from Canfor – which appears similar to sawdust – which it then manufactures into wood pellets for easier transportation and use in the oil field.

He says it first began operating the machinery just before Christmas 2010 and when it first began operating, it was running around 18 hours a day. The noise comes from a blower used to transfer the wood pellets from one building to a storage building next door. He says the company has limited its hours, generally running from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. However, the company has been increasing its hours recently to increase production.

He also says decibel levels have been measured both inside the manufacturing buildings, as well as directly outside both buildings. The loudest reading was taken inside one of the buildings, directly beside the generator, measuring 101 dB. All other levels ranged from between 78 and 96 dB around the plant.

Yet, that is loud enough to at least bother Vopicka who says she can still hear the noise while insider her home.

The Peace River Regional District will be holding a public information meeting about the application for an amendment on May 11 at the North Peace Cultural Centre beginning at 7 p.m.