Harmac pulp mill officials not expecting major increases in emissions, odors from new C$45M electrical generation plant to be built at mill's Duke Point site; plant to use hog fuel to generate electricity

Sandy Yang

Sandy Yang

Jan 6, 2012 – The Daily News (Nanaimo)

NANAIMO, British Columbia , January 6, 2012 () – Officials at the Harmac pulp mill are not anticipating any major increases in emissions or odours as a result of the new $45-million electrical generation plant that will soon be built at the mill's Duke Point site.

Ryan Prontack, Harmac's superintendent of engineering, said the 25-megawatt generation plant will use hog fuel to generate the electricity.

This is the same fuel used to power much of Harmac's pulp processes and the plan is to expand existing operations to accommodate the plant's fuel requirements.

He said the mill's boiler is under-utilized so it's capable of powering both Harmac and the generation plant while the emissions will go through the same precipitators that take the vast majority of the harmful particulates out before they enter the atmosphere.

Delores Broten, editor of the Watershed Sentinel, has raised concerns that if hog fuel with high salt concentrations are used to power the plant, it could put a lot more dioxins in the atmosphere.

"The permit to operate that we have from the Ministry of Environment allows our maximum emission release to be 230 milligrams per cubic metre and we currently operate at five milligrams per cubic metre," Prontack said.

"Our hog fuel comes from a wide range of sources and there is sometimes salt in our inventories, but the way our systems operate keep the amount of dioxins that are released very low. There won't be any additional odours because the plant, unlike the mill , will have nothing to cause odours."

Harmac requires 40 megawatts of electricity to power its operations and 30 megawatts is currently generated on site.

The mill usually buys 10 megawatts from B.C. Hydro, but the construction of the new plant will allow Harmac to become self-sufficient in energy for the first time, while allowing the mill to sell 15 megawatts of power to B.C. Hydro for use on the province 's power grid.

Prontack said that according to its agreement with B.C. Hydro to sell electricity generated at the plant, Harmac will be making more per megawatt than what it was buying power for.

"It's that difference that is driving our ability to make this investment," he said.

"In its efforts to find new sources of green electricity, B.C. Hydro has determined that projects like this offer the lowest costs."

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