Cantimber Biotech in Port Alberni was a hot topic throughout 2016, prompting several neighbouring residents to voice health and environmental concerns over the mill’s emissions.
Cantimber set up shop in two Port Alberni Port Authority buildings near the corner of Harbour Road and Bruce Street in late 2015.
On April 29 Cantimber was informed of an odour and poor air quality in the area near the mill which was reported to be caused from a cracked valve in the facility.
“We were informed by the port authority that nearby residents had experienced a smoke and odour from our operations,” said director of project development and research Michael Liu.
“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.”
The mill shut down operations immediately and had their engineering team investigate the issue.
Liu said that a new valve 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.
Complaints continued throughout June from South Port residents of a smoky smell coming from Cantimber.
The complaints of poor air quality caused the company to undergo tests which led to multiple shutdowns throughout the spring.
During a Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) hosted open house on Oct. 13, a third party consultant confirmed that no chemical additives are added to Cantimber’s operations, despite public accusations.
Golder and Associates, was hired by PAPA to conduct a study of the mill’s operations.
“[Cantimber] are trying to make a very pure activated carbon, therefore they can’t contaminate it with additional materials in the process,” Chad Darby, from Golder and Associates said at the open house. “The process literally is just clean wood chips from the forest.”
Cantimber underwent stack testing from Nov. 3 - 10 to check for potential chemicals in the volatile organic compounds (VOC) and to monitor emissions inside the building.
A 146-page report from the evaluation issued a list of 21 recommendations for Cantimber, 11 of which are suggested to be completed before the mill begins operations in January 2017.
Read more on Cantimber controversy in 2016: