Recent History – 200
Jan. 7, 2000, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Lower emissions, improved production, and the start of a community advisory group were major topics when Louisiana-Pacific (L-P) oriented strand board plant manager Randy Johnston spoke Thursday to the Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce.
Not only will L-P’s new thermal fluid heating system allow the plant to consume on-site all the bark that it produces, but Johnston said the emissions will be reduced by half.
Johnston said that while the current system kicks out 230 mg. per cubic metre, the new one has a guarantee not to exceed 100 mg. per cubic metre.
“We fully expect that the system will not only meet that guarantee but exceed it,” he said adding that they’ll also drop the maximum allowable on their permit from the Ministry of Environment to match the new performance guarantee upon start-up.
Construction of the new $15 million system continues on the south side of the plant and is expected to speed up once spring arrives, so that it starts up in June.
Meanwhile, he said L-P has taken a large bite out of the bark pile. All of the bark that was in the front is gone and about half the pile in the back has been taken away to the burning operation at their Chetwynd site.
The key, however, is the new heating system. “Once that starts up, we will see the end of the bark issue in Dawson Creek,” he said.
Johnston also credited about $5 million worth of other capital improvements over the last few years with improving the performance of the plant.
As a result, he said that the plant has not only exceeded the production record by about three million square board feet, but it’s also one of the three lowest-cost producers on the continent.
“Not just within L-P but within the entire industry in North America,” Johnston said.
The achievement shows the plant has long-term viability — something that many other plants cannot boast. “We have plants that we know may not make it through the next downturn,” he said. “Our’s is not on that list and in fact, our’s is probably one of the higher thought-of plants in the company.”
Also indicative of L-P’s long-term commitment to the community, Johnston said steps are being taken to establishing a community advisory group.
In November, L-P invited representatives from service clubs in the city, and Johnston said this may grow into quarterly meetings where L-P presents information on such matters as emissions and production.
“We see this as a group that can tell us what the concerns of the city are, what the concerns of the residents are, and at the same time provide us with a communications vehicle where we can get communication back into the community regarding what we are doing,” he said.
He also said it’s a good way to prevent the spread of rumours.
“The old adage is that in the absence of information people will make it up,” he said. “And very often, the information that people speculate on is first of all not entirely accurate and not always good for us.”