Union calls for an end to wasteful burning of slash piles

B.C.’s forest industry burns timber on the forest floor that could be used to create energy

The practice of slash burning huge piles of trimmings and discard log ends is being questioned by a forest union official.

The practice of slash burning huge piles of trimmings and discard log ends is being questioned by a forest union official.

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A forest union official is crying foul at burning of slash piles, like those seen in the past month in the region, that could be used for products or to create energy.

Under the watch of government, B.C.’s forest industry continues to burn timber on the forest floor that could be used to create energy, a senior executive with Unifor has charged.

The slash burning of huge piles of trimmings and discard log ends also pollutes the valley’s air, according to a report compiled by a Kamloops medical group.

Rene Pellerin, an executive with Unifor Local 10-B and its former president, said members touring in the bush are collecting for him examples of woodwaste about to go up in smoke.

“Eastern [Canada] mills are just appalled at what we’re doing here,” Pellerin said.

“They’re starving for timber. They can’t run while we just burn this stuff.”

He highlighted two examples found this month, two smaller piles near Knouff Lake and a massive burn pile in the Monte Lake area.

Pellerin said both appear to contain potentially valuable wood resources that could, at least, be burned in a co-generation plant, including at the Domtar pulp mill in Kamloops.

“This is BTUs [heat energy] just going up in the air,” Pellerin said.

B.C.’s Forest and Range Practices Act governs what fibre can be left behind on the forest floor once logging is complete.

Rick Sommer, district forest manager in Kamloops, said companies are not breaking rules when they burn slash. He said the piles “don’t look significantly different from the piles I’ve seen over the past several weeks.”

There are rules in place allowing companies to burn only when weather conditions are favourable for venting.

The Kamloops Forest District, which oversees Crown timber in a 100-kilometre radius of the city, is part of a research project to determine if there are ways to utilize more of the fibre, including separating piles based on size and quality.

Potential uses include energy, creating wood pellets for export or solid wood products for larger and better quality pieces. A study will be completed this winter and presented at a symposium in Kamloops in the spring.

“We’re beginning to see some products in there folks can use,” Sommer said.

Burning slash piles were identified as the culprit behind poor air quality in the Thompson Valley in November 2014, according to a report published by Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Dr. Jill Calder, who represents the group, said the report “debunked” the idea that woodstoves cause sometimes poor air quality in the fall.

Calder said it was circulated to provincial ministries, but no noticeable change has occurred.

“They’re burning due to the risk of forest fire — I get that,” she said. “[But] it’s a waste of fuel. It’s a pollution source. Maybe we can do something more innovative.”

Pellerin said he’s pushing the issue at the national level of the union, which first took aim at slash burning more than seven years ago.

Sommer said the province recently introduced a new fibre-action utilization plan to get lower-quality fibre into the hands of the bioenergy sector, as well as for pulp and paper.

 

Just Posted

This bird’s eye view shows the tanker truck fire on Highway 24. (Photo taken by Kurtis Rainer)
UPDATE: Highway 24 open to single-lane traffic after fuel tanker fire

Driver pulled into the runaway lane after the truck wheels caught fire

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

Milsom Lodge was built in the East Barriere Valley when the Milsom brothers purchased two parcels of land in 1911, DL 2323 and DL2324. (Milsom’s photo)
The Milsom Lodge: The mansion, the ballroom, the history

“At the turn of the century, when so many families were leaving… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read