Cantimber says emissions due to cracked valve

Port Alberni air quality chair Sarah Thomas said she'd like more consistent monitoring at the facility.

Emissions from Cantimber Biotech's facility on April 29.

Emissions from Cantimber Biotech's facility on April 29.

A cracked valve at Cantimber BioTech’s new facility was behind the odour and poor air quality that hit Port Alberni this weekend, according to director of project development and research Michael Liu.

“We were informed by the port authority that nearby residents had experienced a smoke and odour from our operations,” said Liu, adding that they were informed on April 29.

“It’s unfortunate that this incident occurred due to the poor quality of the valve. We’ve upgraded the valve and there should not be any further incidents.”

Liu said Cantimber—which operates out of port authority buildings at Harbour Road and Bruce Street—shut down operations immediately and had their engineering team investigate the issue.

“We have identified a valve on the wet scrubber that cracked,” he said.

“The wet scrubber is a very important dust control. It’s a spray or mist of water and any small dust [particles,] before they exit they bind to it and are washed away. That way, when it leaves the stacks it’s supposed to be just steam.”

Liu said that a new valves was ordered and received on April 30 but that the facility will stay shut down for approximately a week as they upgrade their dust control system.

“We are shut down for the moment until we have the upgrades complete.”

According to Liu, since the activated charcoal that Cantimber produces is used in drinking water and in medical facilities, keeping the process clean is key.

“Because our product is going into potable water treatment and medical solutions, the design is based on the customers’ requirements and there’s no chemicals anywhere in our plant,” said Liu.

“The steam that’s being released are all natural compounds in the wood itself. The steam is the moisture content—the rains and the water in the soil that the trees absorb.”

However, air quality council chair Sarah Thomas said that she’d like to see more data—both collected and released.

“My primary concern is emissions in the surrounding area for local residents, people who are using the area and employees in the local mills and at the facility itself,” said Thomas.

“I’m glad that they’re doing the monitoring that they’ve set up with the particle sampler every six days but I would like to see that extended to be continuous monitoring so that we have continuous data to work with.”

The Ministry of Environment does monitor air quality in Port Alberni via a station at Alberni Elementary.

Thomas added that although access to information has been difficult since Cantimber first set up shop in 2015, she’s cautiously optimistic about the company’s quick response to this weekend’s emission issue.

“I appreciate Cantimber’s recent move to go to the public and have some conversation about the work that’s going on. I’d like to see more of that,” she said.

“The secrecy of what’s going on with the operations has been an issue from the beginning but I’m glad to see that’s changing.”

The smell this weekend was caused by seed pods, Liu said.

“The raw material used is mainly Douglas fir and hemlock and pine. So they’re just pine and fir pods,” he said.

Despite that, local resident Stacey Gaiga, who lives near the plant, says that the air quality at her house was unnacceptable this weekend.

“CanTimber is burning wood and it is impossible to sit in our backyard—we have to close all our windows because of the smoke,” Gaiga wrote in an email.

The facility is currently in the commissioning stage of beginning operations, said Liu, adding that external environment engineering consultants have done an environmental impact assessment currently under review by the Ministry of Environment. However, Liu said that Cantimber would not release the study to the public.

“The commissioning trials are very important to establish a safe and consistent production. We’ve conducted five commissioning trials on different occasions since December 2015. We did a series in January and March,” he said. An air quality monitor has been set up near the corner of Second Avenue and Bruce Street.

“On the days of commissioning during March there was minimal impact on the local air quality. The air quality guidelines from the province are to be 25 micrograms per cubic metre or under and we were between three to five [micrograms],” said Liu.

The facility should begin full-scale operations within three to four weeks.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelly McGiffin, left, Dwayne Stern, batboy Jackson McGiffin and Kirk McGiffin are reviving the Port Alberni Cubs—this time as an over-55 baseball team. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni’s McGiffin brothers revive Cubs baseball at 55-plus

The boys of summer are 55-plus now, but back on the baseball field

The intersection at 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Safety improvements planned for Port Alberni intersection

10th Avenue and Dunbar Street is an “intersection of concern” based on incident data

Members of Huu-ay-aht First Nations conducted two checkpoints on Monday, May 10, asking people who enter the territory to respect the sacred principles and to act accordingly while on Huu-ay-aht land. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Huu-ay-aht First Nations set up checkpoints in territory

Access restrictions come after forestry incidents

Bulldogs forward Brandon Buhr is knocked off the puck by Grizzlies defenceman Lindsay Reid. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs beaten back-to-back by Victoria Grizzlies

Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions while Bulldogs take second place

In 1903, if you were looking north down First Avenue with Alberni in the distance, this is what you would have seen. Scattered houses along River Road are visible, as is the corner of Watson Block building in the lower lefthand corner of the photograph. This photo is part of the 24,000 online collection of the Alberni Valley Museum. View this one and more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN02975 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Historic street scenes of Port Alberni

Take a peek back in time with the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read