Proposed Pellet Plant by Gitxsan Development Corporation

Concerned residents of South Hazelton pen letter to the editor

Editor,

We have concerns regarding the proposed torrefied pellet plant for South Hazelton by Gitxsan Development Corp. We encourage local development and jobs, but question many unknowns. With only two community engagement sessions, not many people understand the scope of this project, its new and unproven technology, unprecedented scale, and 24 hours, 365 days operation.

South Hazelton is an unincorporated municipality with 200+ residents. Many young families live here, with children, within three kilometres of this plant, the first-of-its-kind in Canada.

We requested an extension to the comment period on the Environmental Protection Notice of Sept. 5, 2019, in the Interior News on Sept. 11. Also we requested an Environmental Assessment.

The project plans to use wood waste, but whole logs are used by Smithers and other pellet plants. Clear cutting is not sustainable, and logging slash transport is costly. We need objective scientific studies, not assurances.

In the forestry downturn, pellet plants pop up like mushrooms, about 15 in B.C. and 46 in Canada. Many questions remain about cumulative effects on human and environmental health, such as:

• What is the percentage of PM2.5 particulate matter emitted per ton? Per day? Per annum? How does this affect air quality in South Hazelton and area?

• Fine particulate matter emissions are invisible, cause irreversible, permanent lung and cardiovascular damage and death. What happens when emissions exceed safe levels?

• Where will the wood fibre come from? How much wood fibre is required to produce 100,000 tonnes of torrefied pellets annually? Will GDC use whole logs, from green trees and old-growth forests?

• Does GDC have a forest tenure timber license? Who are the partners? On whose land and whose traditional territory? Were other First Nations consulted?

• Where is the market? What will traffic be to Stewart or Prince Rupert for exports? Is there any available domestic use?

• Have GDC, and affiliates, prepared an analysis of the carbon footprint? Gross GHGs?

• What is the amount of water used, from where, and how is it treated and discharged? Is this project truly “green”?

• Who financially benefits? How are grants applied (e.g. $686,000 from Ministry of Natural Resources Canada)? Recently, 800 scientists urged the European Parliament to end subsidy of the forest biomass industry. Why do our governments promote it?

• Does this project have support from Wilp Nikateen and other Gitxsan communities since it is on their traditional territory?

• Does the Bioenergy sector align with Gwelx’ ye’enst, the Gitxsan responsibility to hold, protect and pass on the land from generation to generation?

• How does the project support aboriginal employment and create jobs for local people and local business, and conserve existing resources?

Concerned residents of South Hazelton and area:

Norm Darroch, Chantal Forsyth, Cindy Forsyth, Mya Hachkevich, Denise Hardy, Geordie Hayden, Kathy Hayden, Lorraine Hnidan-Kendall, Melanie Hooker, Ted Kendall, Beth Larsen, Linda Locke, Brenda Parkes, John Pelsma, Kevin Pierre, Linda Pierre, Gordon Spooner, Julia Sundell-Pierre, Spencer Wilson.

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