What are your air quality concerns in Prince George?

Welcome to PACHA’s new look. and comments section.

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6 thoughts on “What are your air quality concerns in Prince George?

    1. I recently bought a house in the Miller addition, near Lheidli T’enneh park. I love the neighbourhood but am revolted by the sickening odours from the pulp mill. When I speak to residents of Prince George they say that it has improved and used to be worse, which doesn’t reassure me much. Last night there was a “Very high risk” air quality advisory due to smoke from forest fires. My question is, does the pulp mill now reduce emissions during such a time? In a previous article by your organization it said they were not required to. If they are still not required to, then I am very concerned for the health and well-being of all of us here.

  1. As far as I know, the pulp mills do not reduce their operations during particulate matter events which exceed provincial objectives.

    It is true that the odour can still be detected in the central regions of Prince George. It is also true that the frequency of such incidents has decreased considerably. I moved here in 1973 and can verify it from personal observations as well as my interests in Prince George air quality.

    The smoke event on August 8, 2017 was very likely the highest ever recorded in Prince George. The one hour average PM10 was 992.3ug/m3 at 10pm and PM2.5 was 955.1 at 9pm. The provincial criteria objective is a maximum 50ug/m3 for PM10 running 24 hour average and 25ug/m3 for PM2.5.

    To compare, the one hour average TRS (total reduced sulphur) at that time was 1.5 parts per billion. The provincial maximum objective for that is 20.0ppb for level B (existing facilities) and 5.0ppb for level A (new sources). So, that was well within the criteria objective.

    Without a doubt, the smoke event would have been the major health concern for the citizens of Prince George, especially for those with health issues associated with pulmonary issues. For others, it was a relatively short event which may have caused some distress but likely would not have had much impact on overall long term health.

    I did not notice any news reports from Northern Health on the impact on emergency room visits or information on short and long term effects of the high particulate readings from the smoke.

  2. Thanks for that information. I’ve been told before that the smell from the pulp mill is nothing to worry about. But I find it difficult to accept this regular affront to my senses. It ruins my enjoyment of being outside, and appreciation of the beautiful environment I’m in. If I am required to stay indoors on such days for the sake of industry, then my quality of life is diminished.

    1. I totally agree.

      In this case, the Millar subdivision was here before the pulpmills. They did not have to be built where they are. In fact, the old Northwood pulpmill is further away from the city. They could have been built even further upstream.

      But, they were not. So, today’s generation is reaping the “rewards” of the poor decisions of the previous generation.

      The only thing we can avoid is choosing to live in areas presenting conditions we cannot tolerate, whether noise, odours or other objectionable sensory environments.

      It would be helpful if those who wish to sell a house, for instance, and those who act as their agents, would provide full disclosure of such conditions.

      In the absence of that, it is up to individuals to do their own research as best as they can.

      The PGAIR Roundtable has air emission reports which would provide some background that would be helpful for those new to the city who wish to select an appropriate location to live.

      PACHA may be able to post some of that information on this site so that newcomers will have additional information to include in their decision making process.

  3. Thanks, Jo, for your thoughtful comments, and for suggesting that the construction of the pulp mill in its current location was a mistake. I’ve had the feeling since moving here two years ago that in all discussions of air quality in Prince George, criticizing the pulp mill is taboo, and that the only solution is to not live where the smell exists. But I wouldn’t have chosen a different neighbourhood to live in, or to buy my house. I like the physical proximity to the park, the preserved character and beauty of the old houses, the massive Elm trees and the fact that outdoor space is clearly valued in this part of town. I also want to be close enough to my work (around Ospika and 5th) to walk or ride my bike. The smell from the pulp mill, as I’m sure you know, does not limit itself to the Millar subdivision. My old address in a different part of town experienced the pulp mill smell just as often and as offensively. The school where I work even traps the sickening smell inside the lobby and front area, so students and staff are smelling it throughout the day, even inside. When we are discussing the people who experience this offensive odour, we’re talking about the majority of residents in the city of Prince George. Why can we not as a community protest? For example, could the industry not pay a fine on days when the smell is strong, and put that towards relocation at some future date? I find the “put up with it or move” message a discouraging dismissal of the issue. I would like to be part of any initiative that challenges the pulp mill’s right to continue with impunity emitting the current level of noxious odours that interferes with our enjoyment of the place in which we live.

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