By Shaun Thomas – The Northern View
Prince Rupert’s waterfront could soon be home to a large wood pellet export facility as a representative from the Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group and CMC Engineering and Management outlined their plans for the project to council on September 6.
Plans call for construction of four 15,000 tonne pellet silos standing 39 metres high made of galvanized steel, a tower housing a bucket elevator and a series of conveyors to load the silos and ships that would dock at Westview Terminal. The facility would be designed to take pellets from rail and would include a rail yard with capacity for 36 full and 36 empty rail cars.
“Our expectation is to start construction in early 2012. This is not a pipe dream and it is not contingent on the development of the resource. The resource is out there and we want to ship it through Prince Rupert,” said Pinnacle President and COO Leroy Reitsma, whose company owns five pellet production facilities in the interior that include one in Houston, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Meadowbank and Armstrong with another proposed for Burns Lake.
“We are trying to expedite the process of shipping through Prince Rupert.”
Plans for the facility also call for completely covered low-speed conveyor systems, counterweighted baffles and cascade spout loading and unloading to minimize dust; shrouds around exposed drives and no dust control fans to reduce noise and shrouds around the lighting to minimize the visual impact.
“We recognize that this facility will be near downtown and near sensitive residential areas and it has been designed as such. It is a lot of grounbreaking and very modern design,”said Lucio Sacchetti of CMC Engineering and Management, who helped design Prince Rupert Grain and the pellet shipping facility in Vancouver.
The company expects to spend $30 million and create approximately 90,000 man hours of employment over a 12-month construction phase, with half of that work being in Prince Rupert and half being fabricating the equipment. Once complete Reitsma said there would be about 12 jobs created, but that number could grow to 24 as demand increases. Reitsma also didn’t rule out possible truck traffic in the future.
“Right now it is designed to be from rail to the silos, but that doesn’t preclude the development of truck access if the market changes or if there is a local plant developed…If we did allow truck traffic it would be very limited and likely coming from a local plant,” he said, adding that the plant would be reducing traffic through Vancouver but that the company would retain a presence there.
The land in question is owned by the Prince Rupert Port Authority, who the proponents have been working with, but they say working with the City is also important. City council was not only welcoming to the presenters, but also voted in favour of writing a letter of support for the project.
“This is obviously good news for the community, and that your thought is with shipping through Prince Rupert means a lot,” said Mayor Jack Mussallem.