Overall, she cites the mill’s flooding of its neighbours’ properties, unreliable emissions data, a history of poor modelling, and a lack of transparency as reasons why the mill’s owner Louisiana-Pacific shouldn’t be trusted. To back that up, Cushway read from one letter to PVOSB from the Ministry, which referred to its permit as contentious.
“There have been numerous complaints received which include large particulate falling onto surrounding properties, noise from the plant, surface water runoff flowing onto neighbouring properties, and odour from the log retention pond,” she reads.
Cushway used one example from 2007, when emissions of formaldehyde, particulates, and airflow rate were above the permittable level for three quarters of the year, with only the particulates dropping to an acceptable rate in the fourth quarter. In January 2011, there were 302 hours of invalid monitoring data, meaning only the days without errors were reported to the Ministry.
Jill Stromsmoe, who assisted in evaluating the records, also criticized PVOSB’s air quality reports, alleging it gets away with reporting daily averages. At some points emissions were over 18 times the allowable limits, but they were balanced with other times much lower.
“Peace Valley OSB can emit more pollution than their permit allows on an hourly basis, by making sure they counter high levels with low levels to get their average to come out at the end of the day,” she argues. “But do our lungs average out over 24 hours? Do we average out the pollution we breathe, or do we breathe what’s there?”
Other criticisms come from the plant running on a draft environmental management plan from 2005, the fact that the province does not currently have air emission standards for MDI, and that LP can seemingly dictate when its inspections will take place.
Cushway says she hopes the information will help the public decide whether they trust the mill to use a new resin called MDI in its production of oriented strand board, which it has applied to the Ministry to use. She refers to a public meeting she organized about the application, at which Coote argued that the LP running the mill was changed from the one from decades past when there were serious health concerns.
“They said, ‘Oh no, that company was down there. We are a different company. We have a state-of-the-art mill. We are not that same company. We are a good company. We are good corporate neighbours’” she recalls. “Well I’m here to tell you that if this is a good mill, and these are good corporate neighbours, thank God I didn’t have to deal with the other one.”
In addition to mistrust for LP, residents have previously also expressed health concerns about the resin.
Those on hand for the meeting included City Councillors Bruce Christensen and Byron Stewart, and the Area B and C directors of the Peace River Regional District Karen Goodings and Arthur Hadland. However, among those who did not attend but were invited were the Plant Manager Ian Coote and the Plant Environmental Manager Linsday Sahaydak, meaning those on hand heard nothing in terms of a company rebuttal.
Anyone uncomfortable with the mill’s track record is urged to write the Ministry of Environment with their concerns.