Cantimber Biotech says minimal complaints were submitted during the mill’s eight days of operation in early November.
Cantimber underwent stack testing at the facility, near the corner of Harbour Road and Bruce Street, to check for potential chemicals in the volatile organic compounds (VOC) and to monitor emissions inside the building during full operation.
A warm up procedure began on Nov. 3 and operations ran until Nov. 10.
“This was the first time where we actually had a full operation of our new upgrade which is the secondary combustion chamber, which are designed to burn and destroy any VOC’s that are in the process,” said Michael Liu, director of project development and research at Cantimber. “Everything has to be going through the secondary combustion chamber to get burned and then it goes through the stack.”
Liu said an online observation and complaint submission form was available to neighbouring residents throughout the testing period.
On Nov. 5, Liu said a complaint was filed from a resident who noticed an “unpleasant campfire and wood burning smell.”
After receiving the complaint, Liu said a sophisticated air-monitoring system was set up in the proximity of where the smell was said to be coming from.
After an engineer reviewed the data from the monitoring system, and what the mill was burning at that time, Liu said it was determined that at the time of the complaint the mill was only burning propane and charcoal.
“There were no wood chips and there were no firewood at that time,” Liu said. “Based on our wind direction data … it would have been a wood stove smell from nearby residents.”
Liu said other than the one complaint, three observations were submitted that did not require further follow up.
“As of now we have been notified there may be a written complaint that may be submitted but we haven’t received it at the moment,” Liu said.
Results from the stack tests should be available to the public within a couple of weeks, Liu assumes.
Cantimber shuts down annually from Nov. 10 to early January.
Contrary to the information provided by Liu, First Avenue resident Lesley Wright said she filed two complaints through Cantimber’s online submission form during the stack testing phase.
“There were two instances that occurred for me, one was on Nov. 9 at about 8 a.m. and the other one was on Nov. 13 at about 9:30 p.m.,” Wright said.
Wright said during the testing she noticed a smell that she describes as acrid.
“It almost starts burning in your nose,” she said. “I recognized that smell right away. I know the difference between wood smoke and this other smell.”
After submitting her complaints, a thank-you message appeared confirming that the forms were sent, but Wright didn’t hear anything further from the company regarding her complaints.