For the past two days, residents of Port Edward have been reporting a thick smoke coming from the south of Ridley Island.
The week-long clearing and burning on the Ridley Island Industrial Site was essential to prepare for the new logistics facility by Ray-Mont Logistics. However, the black smoke, and the smell, was of concern to some residents and people who work in Port Edward, which is near Ridley Island.
The Port of Prince Rupert responded to those concerns, stating that a small volume of dock structures older than 50 years was burned along with organic materials. Some of the dock structures may have been exposed to creosote, but Michael Gurney, manager of corporate communications for the port, said there are no health hazards and the aged materials on Ridley Island dissipated so completely that if there was any trace of creosote it would be difficult to detect.
“While the majority of the burn was local organics, the burn was also used to dispose abandoned materials from various waterfront sources instead of having to start another fire specifically for them. Given the age and inability to confirm their original source, some of those sources may have contained inorganic materials,” Gurney said in an email.
General manager of the Port Edward Harbour Authority, Keri Weick, said she spotted black smoke from her workplace on Monday, June 26.
“It smelled like a heavy wet smoke and it’s been smoky ever since. It’s in the air,” Weick said on Tuesday. Her co-worker, Fred Oddson posted photos on his Facebook page of the fires and smoke seen from his home in Port Edward.
The burning began a week ago and ended on Monday evening. Due to a change in wind conditions, the smoke has been more visible the past two days. Gurney said the contractor has been raking the remnants of the fire so that it’s completely disposed of and it should soon be complete.
Considering the unpredictable weather this spring, Gurney said they’re pleased the week-long burn went as smoothly as it did.