NEWPRO is seeking permit to changeover to a pellet plant, which they say will reduce plant emissions 94 per cent.
Rebecca Martin, SLR Consultant working for NEWPRO, says the proposed pellet plant will have a much simpler production process and an upgraded drying system.
The new belt dryer will bring the facility up to date with all the best achievable technology guidelines, she said.
The pellet plant emissions will be 94 percent less than the particle board plant, said Eri Ottersburg, another SLR consultant for NEWPRO.
Air quality is often measured by the amount of particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5).
Ottersburg says that by changing the facility into a pellet plant, their PM2.5 emissions will drop 91 percent, from 225 tonnes to 24 tonnes.
That reduction is equal to removing 84 percent or 5,600 wood stoves in the Bulkley Valley, she said.
Martins said studies of the air quality in the Bulkley Valley show that air pollution issues are primarily the result of wood stoves.
A 2008 University of B.C. study (WEST) monitored air quality in different areas on the worst days and found highest pollution concentrated around residential areas.
A 2014 study by the Ministry of Environment found the air was most polluted in the winter and at night, as well as spikes in the morning and afternoon, presumably when people commute to and from work.
The proposed NEWPRO changeover will also reduce emissions by utilizing timber that would otherwise just be burned.
“You are taking an unusable byproduct of the lumber industry and turning it into something good,” Ottersburg said.
Martin says besides reducing local emissions, producing pellets also reduces global emissions, as pellets can replace coal for fuel.
NEWPRO plans to employ 30 to 40 people.
They are discussing a contract with West Fraser to use their slash piles, said co-owner Dave Jacobs.
NEWPRO will grind up waste wood in the bush and truck it to their plant on Railway Avenue where they will dry and process it into pellets.
From there, pellets will be sent via rail to the Westview Terminal in Prince Rupert and pooled with other B.C. pellets for international export.
Dave says their target is to export 80,000 tonnes of pellets annually.
NEWPRO will submit their permit application early-August and Martins says they expect to hear back from the Ministry of Forests within the month.
“After the permit, it will be six months before start up,” said Dave.
The NEWPRO particle board plant has been closed since January 6, 2014.
Other co-owner Darren Jacobs says it closed due to the market and value of the Canadian dollar which amped up competition.
After the shutdown they started looking at other options for their plant, and Dave says producing pellets made good sense.
Ottersburg says that if the pellet plant proposal is not approved, NEWPRO still has a permit to produce panel board.
“They can begin producing panel board today if they want to,” she said.