Click here to watch the Premium Pellet Expansion Project Virtual Town Hall
Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd. (Sinclar) has been operating Premium Pellet Ltd. in Vanderhoof since 2001. The pellet plant directly employs 22 people and supports many more indirect contract and business jobs in Vanderhoof and the surrounding area. The biomass feedstock used to create the pellets is gathered from various sources including: sawmill residuals, such as shavings, sawdust, chip fines, and hog, from local sawmills as well as ground or chipped biowood from harvesting operations.
Premium Pellet is designed to produce 170,000 metric tonnes of pellets with a large portion of this production exported to displace coal for electricity generation and the remainder used for residential heating in the local market. Recent closures and curtailments in the lumber sector and volatile market conditions have resulted in less of the traditional biomass feedstock being available and this requires the use of more feedstock with a higher moisture content, like hog and biowood. To address this shift, an upgrade and expansion to Premium Pellet to increase drying and pelletizing capacity, and further increase the ability to utilize alternative fibre sources is needed.
These changes will ensure Premium Pellet continues to be a sustainable operation in the region. Other sources of biomass will be utilized that would otherwise be left in the forest or burned as part of ordinary forest practices. Reducing the burning of forest residuals will have a positive impact on harvesting and hauling contractors in the area.
Safety is rooted in the core values at Sinclar including a focus on the continuous improvement of safety systems, processes and individual accountability – essential to its operations and the community. Sinclar is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment, not only at work but also in the communities it operates within. Sinclar is currently investigating options and developing plans to install the best available air emissions control equipment on both the existing and newly installed dryer equipment at Premium Pellet.
The Expansion Project
Sinclar Group has embarked on a capital expansion of the Premium Pellet facility to address capacity issues and realize growth opportunities. The project includes new equipment, including a dryer and burner, a dry hammer mill, three pellet mills, a cooling tower, storage, emissions control equipment, and other related systems like electrical and material handling.
The project is broken into three phases:
Increase Drying Capacity, which is well underway, includes the following:
- Installation of a bio-sizer to convert various sizes of fibre into a consistent size
- Installation of a dryer, antural gas-fired burner and multi clone emissions control system
- Installation of additional material handling, storage, and processing equipment
Increase Pellet Production, planning is underway and installation will include the following:
- Relocating the existing bagged pellet line
- Installing a second dry hammer mill
- Installing 3 additional pellet mills (bringing the total pellet mills in operation to eight)
- Installing additional pellet cooling and storage capacity
Air Emissions Control Upgrades:
- Completing advanced planning for the purchase and installation of a Wet Electrostatic Precipitator (WESP) to improve the air emissions from the current and new dryers
- Planning on implementation within 3 years of permit amendment approval
- Contingent on BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) approval and public consultation
Sinclar has a long history of driving value from the whole fibre source it manages.
This project will allow for the recovery of fibre traditionally burned as waste in the harvesting areas and will generate value by directing that fibre to a more sustainable, value-added option – making pellets. The ability to utilize more of the available fibre provides additional resiliency and self-reliance for Premium Pellet, in addition to meeting environmental and forest stewardship commitments (learn more about Premium Pellet’s commitments here).
This project will also provide the following benefits:
- Sinclar Group’s message to local businesses and the community is that there is commitment to the long term viability of the local communities
- Providing safe, sustainable, long term, local employment for Premium Pellet staff, contractors, and forestry service providers
- Improving local air quality through lower particulate emissions
- Providing a long-term supply of home heating pellets for the local market
- Providing a value-added outlet for fibre that is currently being burned
Air Emissions Permit Amendment
The expansion project requires an amendment to the existing Premium Pellet air discharge permit. In addition to the new process equipment mentioned above, several new emissions control devices, including a chiller cyclone, a cyclone-baghouse combination for the hammermill, a dryer line cyclone, and the multi-clone for the new dryer are being installed. All of this new equipment will help to reduce the emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) from Premium Pellet operations.
As part of the permit amendment process, Sinclar has conducted extensive but conservative modelling with an independent third party to define how the plant expansion will affect the existing levels of PM in the Vanderhoof airshed area.
Modelling looked at two scenarios beteen 2013 and 2015: the increase in contaminant concentrations due to the proposed new sources in the expansion project (Case 1) and, the total contribution of the existing and proposed sources (Case 2). Both of these scenarios are compared to the background concentration as measured at the Vanderhoof Courthouse (2440 Bute Avenue). Existing background concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 exceed air quality objectives. Previous investigations show that local air quality is worst in the winter months and that Vanderhoof is a community that shows air quality trends consistent with those of other areas that are greatly impacted by residential wood smoke.
The following table summarizes the modelling results for the existing and proposed emission sources:
|Source||PM10 (t/y)||PM2.5 (t/y)||VOC (t/y)||NOX (t/y)|
|Wood Fibre Dryer||109.1||100.9||93.7||26.3
|Pellet Cooling System||11.6||10.7||0||0|
|Dry Shavings Bin||1.2||1.1||0||0|
|Sawdust Storage Bin||16.0||14.8||0||0|
|Dry Sawdust Cyclone||8.2||7.6||0||0|
*Note that PM10 included PM2.5, therefore total PM emissions are not equal to the sum of PM10 and PM2.5
The following is a list of modelling conclusions:
- Predicted concentrations are based on Premium Pellet operating at peak permitted emission rates through the year. Actual emissions from the existing facility are under the permit limit and the same is expected from the proposed sources; actual changes in local air quality will likely be smaller than the presented model results.
- The footprint of maximum predicted concentration is very small and occurs very close to Premium Pellet.
- Modelled concentrations decrease quickly with distance from Premium Pellet and potential changes to air quality as well below air quality objectives.
- The model suggests emission from the existing facility are a minor contributor to PM at the courthouse monitoring station (typically less than 10% of the air quality objectives). The emissions from the proposed sources are less than 5% of the existing background concentration.
- The model results of the proposed new sources are in the same range of other recent, similar projects, and it is expected that the proposed sources will not have a significant impact on existing PM concentrations within Vanderhoof.
To better illustrate the impact of the existing plant and proposed new sources modelling results for the entire period are presented below:
Additional modelling comments and conclusions:
- Existing and proposed emissions from Premium Pellet remain relatively steady through the modelling period.
- Daily average background PM concentrations at the Vanderhoof Courthouse vary with the seasons, generally being higher in the winter months and lower in the summer months.
- Daily modelling comparisons continue to suggest that the emission from the existing facility and proposed sources are a minor contributor to PM at the courthouse monitoring station.
In the immediate short term, to reduce the site’s contribution of particulate matter in the community airshed, Sinclar is improving the discharge of the existing hammermill baghouse and new hammermill baghouse by optimizing the discharge stack. In addition to the site’s fugitive dust mitigation strategy (paving, sweeping and wetting roads), the site is also committed to decreasing the output of the wood fired burner during ENV-issued air advisory periods until after the completion of Phase Three.
Phase Three involves purchasing and installing a WESP, further reducing the particulate matter emissions to meet or exceed current industry standards.
All of the documentation for the permit amendment is located below. If you prefer to access a paper copy, this information will be available at the Vanderhoof Public Library (230 Stewart St E).
|Preliminary Application CLICK HERE to view||Initial application documentation sent to ENV.
June 26, 2012
CLICK HERE to view
|Existing Premium Pellet air discharge permit.
November 12, 2012
|Environmental Protection Notice CLICK HERE to view||Formal notice of the permit amendment application.
Nov. 2, 2021
|Emissions Inventory Table CLICK HERE|
|Table of permitted and proposed emissions sources.
June 26, 2020
|Stack Testing SummaryCLICK HERE to view||Table of recent stack test summary results for the existing fibre dryer,
December 6, 2021
|Model Plan |
CLICK HERE to view
|As required by ENV the modelling plan lays out the scope and parameters for conducting the air quality modelling for the new sources.
November 27, 2020
CLICK HEREto view
|A summary of the outputs from air quality modelling with graphics and simplified descriptions.
Nov. 23, 2021
|Air Quality Technical Report (AQTR or TAR) CLICK HERE|
|The technical output from air quality modelling including modelled contaminant concentrations around the community.
Sept. 8, 2021
|Air Quality Technical Report – Appendices A-D|
CLICK HERE to view
|Appendices to the technical report including: dispersion modeling plan, CALMET data, CALPUFF data, and contour plots,
September 8, 2021
|Air Quality Technical Report – Appendices E-G|
CLICK HERE to view
|Appendices to the technical report including: additional contour plots, detailed plots and tables, and test results,
September 8, 2021
|Clause Amendment Form|
CLICK HERE to view
|Part of permit amendment requesting clause amendments,
November 15, 2021
Premium Pellet has been an important part of the Vanderhoof community for over 20 years and this permit amendment and associated facility upgrades represent a commitment to the employees, local businesses and the community. Sinclar believes that this amendment is warranted as it will allow for the upgrades to the plant that will have an overall positive benefit on the community and the region.
If you would like to submit feedback about the air emissions permit amendment request, please email us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAQ - Premium Pellet Expansion Project
The Expansion Project
Due to recent changes in the lumber sector, turbulent market conditions, changes in fibre composition and availability, and increased demand for fibre in the region, Premium Pellet is no longer achieving its design production level with its current equipment capacity and residual fibre sources. This project is happening now to secure Premium Pellet’s long-term future in the community and meet the demand of the growing biomass pellet market. Phase 1 of the project will help Premium Pellet better match the changes (i.e. increasing moisture content) in the incoming fibre. Phase 2 will position Premium Pellet to participate in the growing pellet market and remain competitive in the pellet manufacturing industry. Phase 3 will align the mill emission control equipment with current best practices and help to reduce the particulate matter concentrations in the community.
Both new and used equipment options were considered during the initial planning for the project. Sinclar chose to purchase the used equipment because the analysis showed that Premium Pellet could meet its obligations and grow its capacity with used equipment for the same investment as purchasing new equipment to only meet its current production levels.
The engineering, design, manufacturing and installation of a WESP is a long lead time activity (approximately 2 years). This could be even longer if material and manufacturing delays related to COVID-19 continue. To reduce this lead time, Sinclar has contracted with a third-party engineering firm to conduct initial analysis and planning around options for the WESP at Premium Pellet.
All of the available information regarding the requested permit amendment is available on this website. A notice is posted in the local newspaper and the BC Gazette. Paper copies of the information on this site will be available for review at the Vanderhoof Public Library. Sinclar will be hosting a live presentation during the consultation period to discuss the project and permit amendment; additional information will be posted on this site. If you have specific questions or comments, please contact us at email@example.com
Particulate Matter (PM)
HealthLinkBC provides the following definition:
Particulate matter (PM) refers to small solid or liquid particles floating in the air. These particles can be made up of different substances like carbon, sulphur, nitrogen and metal compounds. Generally, smaller particles are thought to be more harmful to health than larger particles.
PM10 includes fine particles as well as coarse particles that range in size from 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. The coarse particles tend to stay in the upper parts of our respiratory tract, such as the nose and throat. PM2.5 is about one-eighth the diameter of a human hair.
There are many sources of PM. One of the largest sources of particulate matter in B.C. is residential wood burning. Wood smoke may come from residential sources such as a fireplace or wood stove in a home, all open burning of vegetative matter or backyard burning (https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/outdoor-air-pollution). Additional sources include: wildfire, traffic and road dusts, certain industrial activities, construction, and agriculture.
PM is spread from a source in the same way as wildfire smoke; weather patterns like wind, pressure, and temperature changes move PM around an area.
HealthLinkBC lists common health effects of PM exposure. Small particles can move deeper into the respiratory tract, including the lungs. For this reason, fine particles that have diameters less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) are linked to more serious health effects than larger particles.
Regarding health effects, Premium Pellet does not add any types of glues, binders or chemicals during its production processes and the emissions from the plant are characteristic of similar plants operating in BC. Premium Pellet has conducted third-party modelling of the impacts of this project and the results are included on this site.
Various other reports have been published relating to air quality in the area including, but not limited to:
- 2005 British Columbia Emissions Inventory of Criteria Air Contaminants
- C. Residential Wood-Burning Appliances: District of Vanderhoof Door to Door Survey Results
- Systematic identification and prioritization of communities impacted by residential woodsmoke in British Columbia, Canada
Expansion Project Air Quality Modelling
Please see the Emissions Inventory Table provided in the documents section.
Please see the Modelling Summary or Technical Assessment Report provided in the documents section.
Premium Pellet undertakes regular actions to reduce the PM emissions from the site. This includes: regular equipment checks and maintenance, semi-annual dryer emissions testing, participating in and responding to permit inspections from ENV, and fugitive dust management through pavement sweeping and road wetting. Further PM reductions will be realized with the installation of the WESP.
This period from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015 represents the most recent period during which required, local meteorological data was available for input to the model. Please see the Technical Assessment Report or Modelling Plan in the documents section for additional information.
A percentile is a statistical method that is used to help understand and interpret data. Additional information is available through various statistics websites; two options are provided below:
For the air quality model, the 98th percentile is the value below which 98% of the other values fall; out of the roughly 1000 days that were modelled, roughly 980 of those days would be less than or equal to the 98th percentile value shown in the modelling results. Using the 98th percentile instead of a simple average is a layer of conservativism, or safety, built into the modelling approach. This approach is consistent with ENV guidance on conducting air quality models.
Other Environmental Questions
Sinclar carefully weighted the factors surrounding the fuel choice for the new burner to balance the capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, fuel availability, and environmental impacts before deciding to use natural gas. A natural gas burner required less up-front investment, showed lower cost to operate and contributes less PM to the atmosphere.
Premium Pellet has a supply contract with a major pellet supplier that supplies pellets all around the world to power generation companies. These companies are using Canadian wood pellets as a replacement fuel in their existing coal-fired electricity generation facilities. Wood pellets have a lower level of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions when burned to produce electricity and contribute to GHG reduction targets. In the past, the pellets have been sent to markets in Europe but they will also be sent to Japan in the future.
BC’s power grid largely uses hydro power to generate electricity which has near-zero GHG emissions. There is no coal used to produce electricity in BC so there is no need to offset that coal with pellets. There is some domestic market for pellets as a source of home heating.
There is very little waste generated from the production of pellets; pellet production actually helps to reduce waste from sawmills or waste burned from logging activities. A small amount of ash is produced from the wood fired dryer which is transferred to and disposed in a permitted landfill operated by Nechako Lumber.
Haze generally occurs during periods of lower dryer efficiency like start up, shut down and major upset conditions. Haze can result from a variety of things including the type of fibre, fibre moisture content and changes to the fuel going to the wood fibre fired burner. Premium pellet takes every effort to eliminate or reduce operating conditions that create haze and, when those conditions are required, it is done as quickly as possible. No new instances of haze are anticipated with the expansion project.
Fibre Access and Use
The bulk of the fibre Premium Pellet uses to produce pellets comes from sawdust and other white wood residuals from local sawmills. In addition to this waste, additional waste fibre is collected from logging operations. In this way Premium Pellet is able to remove more material from the bush that would traditionally be left behind as waste to be burned.
The pellets are produced from sawmill residuals or material that would otherwise be left behind during logging.
No, Sinclar first reviews the logs for suitability to be processed by sawmills. If logs are not suitable and they cannot be sold on to other processors they will be used as fibre to produce pellets. The co-located Nechako Lumber has a long history of utilizing lower grade logs in its sawmill.
Yes, Sinclar Group has partnered with Saik’uz First Nation in a Timber Supply Agreement and the Vanderhoof Community Forest for fibre supply to its Vanderhoof operations.
The pellet plant operating hours will not change as a result of the expansion. Premium Pellet does not anticipate any change to the current noise generated at the facility; most of the large motors and equipment will be located inside the main pellet mill building.
Premium Pellet does not anticipate any increase in rail traffic related to the expansion of the pellet plant. It is likely that more cars per train will be carrying pellets. There is the potential for increased rail traffic through the community due to increased use of the Port of Prince Rupert by other products and resources.
Premium Pellet does anticipate a marginal increase in highway traffic to transport the additional fibre requirements of phase 2 of the project. Due to the location of the pellet plant, with direct access to Hwy 16, there is no anticipated impact to any local roads.
Safety is a core value of Sinclar and all of its operations. Spark detection and fire suppression is being installed in all required components of the new equipment and Sinclar will continue to maintain its high standard of continuous improvement around of safety systems and culture.