GHG emissions at Harmac pulp mill in Nanaimo, British Columbia, rise by 10% between 2009 and 2010 as production increases; mill plans to install new equipment over next few years to eliminate reliance on heavy fuel oil, company official says

NANAIMO, British Columbia , January 11, 2012 () – Fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions at the Harmac pulp mill crept up by about 10% between 2009 and 2010 as the facility ramped up production.

But the mill will operate even cleaner once it phases out the burning of heavy fuel oil over the next few years, says one manager.

The local mill gave off 78,871 tonnes of C02 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 with two full production lines operating for most of the year.

In 2009, the mill ran a single line for all of 2009 and started a second line later in the year. This resulted in 71,406 tonnes worth of emissions.

David Bramley, environmental superintendent at Harmac, said efficient operation of the mill's boilers and government funding to boost environmental performance has helped keep greenhouse gas emissions as low as possible.

Any increase in these emissions is cause for concern, said Christianne Wilhelmson, clean air and water program co-ordinator for the Georgia Strait Alliance. However, mills that have a plan to wean themselves off the use of heavy fuel oil, such as Bunker C , are headed in the right direction, she said.

Spikes and drops in emissions occur over the years depending on what kind of fuel is used at Harmac for how long. Hog fuel, a mix of bark and wood fibre, and black liquor, a pulp byproduct, are the most eco-friendly sources. But it doesn't work for all applications.

The mill also uses natural gas and heavy fuel oil, which produce more pollution. Bunker C used to be the primary source of fuel for Harmac until 1992 when the facility began to focus on natural gas for energy. About 175,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissi ons spewed from its stack in 1991.

"A lot of it depends on how smoothly the boiler runs," said Bramley. "When the boiler runs very smoothly, your consumption of fossil fuels is very, very low. That's how things have been over the last couple of years. The numbers we see here, they're like numbers we've never seen."

Harmac has also benefited from $27 million in funding through the federal Green Transformation Fund, intended to improve energy efficiency and/or environmental performance in mill operations.

Bramley said the mill plans to install new equipment over the next few years that will eliminate the mill's reliance on heavy fuel oil entirely.

However, he added that as production at the mill increases so will the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

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