Don Krusel is the president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
When the first bulk carrier docked at Westview Wood Pellet Terminal last December, it had been six years since a new terminal began operation in Prince Rupert.
I remember vividly the thousands of residents who gathered to celebrate the opening of Fairview Container Terminal in 2007. Since that day, Prince Rupert has grown in importance as a vital link between communities in North America and those in far-off markets, and our local economy has benefited.
The Westview Wood Pellet Terminal represents an equally important connection for communities in our own backyard of northern B.C. Wood pellets are a clean-burning biofuel manufactured from wood waste. Pellet-producing communities like Quesnel, Prince George and Houston are already taking advantage of the Prince Rupert gateway to move this renewable resource to overseas customers.
It’s good news for Prince Rupert as well. With the establishment of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group as the Port Authority’s tenant, a long-underutilized waterfront industrial site is again contributing directly to the city’s municipal tax base.
As important as this development is, and as eager as we are to see the new terminal reach the end of its construction and commissioning phase, we recognize it’s hard to be enthusiastic about industrial development when troubled by nighttime noise or other disturbances.
Over the last month, the Port Authority has received several complaints about noise and light pollution from residents living close to Westview Wood Pellet Terminal. Each of these comments has been shared with the terminal operator and has triggered specific action by the Port Authority.
The Westview terminal project was subject to a thorough environmental assessment under the Canada Port Authority Environmental Assessment Regulations. As part of this process, the proponent described and outlined how potential issues such as noise, light and dust associated with the operations will be minimized.
Complementing Pinnacle’s commitment to mitigate impacts on the community, the Port Authority installed a monitoring station to track noise and particulate matter (dust) emanating from the site and created adaptive management plans with Pinnacle.
During the remainder of the terminal’s construction and commissioning, we will be reviewing data from our monitoring program daily. Port Authority staff and representatives of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group are investigating data that exceed acceptable thresholds and identifying onsite systems that require fine-tuning.
Commissioning entails verifying, inspecting, and testing elements of a new facility. During the commissioning phase of any operation on this scale, adjustments are necessary—and expected—after the new equipment has been installed.
Comments and observations from Prince Rupert residents are useful in helping us diagnose problems. They also help us ensure that once the terminal is fully operational, the thresholds to which Pinnacle has committed will be respected.
The Port Authority has begun publishing a weekly summary of comments received from the public. The summary also describes the follow-up work we conduct to address concerns. It is available on our website at www.rupertport.com/response.
As an organization, we are committed to the growth and vitality of our city, and believe that dialogue is a foundation of a healthy community. Our Community Comment Line is available 24 hours a day: 250 627-5621. Web users can complete a form at www.rupertport.com/comment. Providing information that is as specific as possible (residence location, times of day, duration of issues) will help us address problems more quickly.
We look forward to the completion of the Westview terminal project. In due course, we hope citizens will join us in welcoming a new member of Prince Rupert’s port community.