President and COO of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Leroy Reitsma (left to right), Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach, and West Fraser vice president Larry Gardner at the site of a wood pellet production facility prior to its opening in November 2018. (Chris Gareau photo)

Neighbours fed up with pellet plant noise

A petition from 50 residents brought to council, company says noise mitigation plan coming in August

A number of residents are fed up with what they describe as “overwhelming and undue” noise coming from a whole log chipper at the Pinnacle wood pellet plant in Smithers.

At their July 9 meeting, council received a petition from 50 residents who live in close proximity to the plant and say that the noise has become too much to handle.

“Our once peaceful properties, many purchased prior to 1970, are no longer our quiet little pieces of heaven,” the letter reads.

It adds that, while residents are not trying to have the operation shut down and understand a certain amount of noise from an industrial plant is to be expected, levels coming from the chipper have made life miserable for adjacent neighbourhoods, many of which are inhabited by a high level of seniors and stay-at-home moms with young children.

“At times it has been so loud it wakes one from sleep in the morning and overrides the announcers on the radio or television … [It has also] devastated our property values, making the thoughts of selling impossible, as no one wants to live in an area with this degree of noise.”

For Pinnacle’s part, the plant’s General Manager of Operations Jeff Johnston was present at the meeting and sent in a letter to council addressing residents’ concerns.

READ MORE: Residents frustrated with Pinnacle wood pellet plant noise

In it, the company acknowledged the issue and said they had already taken steps to mitigate noise such as replacing the aforementioned chipper.

“As a starting point, when we became aware of the sound issue we reviewed our operating hours to ensure they were more conservative than the Town bylaws. Next, we dispatched a newly-acquired grinder to the site to replace the chipper. The grinder operates at a lower level of noise, a notable improvement,” the letter reads.

It adds that this is not a final solution and further plans to address the issue will be released next month.

“We are currently advancing a larger capital project that will allow us to better contain more of the sound from our chipping operation.

“We look forward to sharing more details regarding our project in August as we recognize that this is a priority issue.”

READ MORE: Mayor, Pinnacle Pellet COO respond to Clear Air Now concerns

The 50 individuals who signed the petition are urging the pellet plant to “pursue alternate ways to alleviate this problem and address this noise issue so we can co-exist with Pinnacle pellet and still enjoy our properties and homes.”

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