Reader is all steamed

As a weather nerd, I often wonder how all that steam affects our weather here in town and in the Alberni Valley as a whole, reader says.

To the Editor,

The debate about emissions from Catalyst is interesting. As a weather nerd, I often wonder how all that steam affects our weather here in town and in the Alberni Valley as a whole.

As Alberniweather.ca’s HQ is just a few blocks east of Catalyst, I’ve often observed the plume of steam and smoke as it sits over the city.  Sometimes, especially at this time of year, it seems to act as a magnet for the rest of the fog coming in off the Inlet.

I do wonder whether all that moisture pumped into the airshed 24 hours a day leads to more condensation, more fog, and ultimately, less sun than what we would otherwise have.

The most difficult thing is that it is hard to compare with a time before the paper mill was there. But I wonder: what if there was an effort made to redirect all that steam (ie. everything but what’s coming from the big stack) so that maybe it could be piped into the city’s district energy system, or maybe just piped up Arbutus Ridge so that it was released over the level of the fog.

I trust all involved—government, Catalyst, and others—will keep watch over our air quality, but if we are looking for a way to bring the biggest benefit to our city, maybe we should see if redirecting that steam might give us a little, or perhaps a lot, more Vitamin D?

Even if it only meant an extra half hour of sun a day in winter.  That adds up over an entire winter, and in people’s health and well being.

Chris Alemany,

Port Alberni