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Pinnacle Pellet hosts forum on proposed Prince Rupert pellet export terminal

Pinnacle Pellet president Leroy Reitsma was back in Prince Rupert last night for a town hall on the proposed pellet export terminal at Westview Terminal.

In particular, he was discussing the feedback received at the May 28 open house, and said the comment most received from the written and verbal submissions had to do with locating the terminal at Westview as opposed to a more industrial area like Watson Island or Ridley Island.

"The issue with Watson Island, or the backside of Ridley Island, is that the channel leading into Porpoise Harbour does not have sufficient draft or turning capability for ships the size that we are intending to use," explained Reitsma.

"The big issue with Ridley Island is the scale of the terminal and keeping that land available for larger developments. As well, the jetty that would need to be built for this terminal on Ridley Island would be about one kilometre long, which is economically restrictive."

Another concern that was frequently raised at the May 28 open house was that of dust from the terminal. Reitsma said that the contained nature of the facility, coupled with a new spout to directly deposit the pellets into the silo would essentially eliminate dust seen at other terminals.

"Every other terminal handling pellets up to this point has been where pellets were a secondary or third though. Until now there has never been a terminal designed specifically for this purpose. What we are able to do is start with a blank slate and get it right from the beginning," he said, adding that using dust and health concerns from Ridley Terminals was like comparing apples to oranges.

"It is not an issue with the product, it is the process of moving it. When you try to get a product to piggyback on the infrastructure designed for other products, you're going to have problems," he said, noting that the conveyors at RTI move three times faster than the ones that would be at the new terminal.

When it came time for the public question period, the message from those in attendance was that they wanted Pinnacle Pellet in Prince Rupert but at a site away from town.

"It is great to see the growth of Prince Rupert and the port, and I am glad to see Pinnacle Pellet is wanting to spend money to locate in Prince Rupert...But I do wish you would spend more money and put it somewhere more appropriate," said Lisa Collins.

"The reality is that residential areas and marine related industries don't mix," said Brian Denton, who noted that the grain terminal was moved out of town and Fairview Terminal was build outside of the residential areas of Prince Rupert.

Along with concerns about possible fire or explosion from storing pellets, noise and restricted waterfront access, some raised health concerns related to outgassing and pellet dust.

"Putting this pellet plant here, regardless of what was at the site previously, poses a huge health threat to not only my family but all of Prince Rupert...You, for financial gain, want to jeopardize other people's lives, and that is totally unacceptable," said Camille Mark.

"I don't want the pellet plant because I don't want other kids to get sick like I am," said Kyle Mark.

As for benefits to the community and ways of alleviating some of the concerns should the project proceed, Reitsma said the company was planning to spend money for a controlled rail crossing at the ferry terminal to reduce noise and paving the road along the waterfront while also constructing a walkway leading from Kwinitsa Station to the terminal.

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