The final process is that of public input and community engagement, which was emceed by a concerned resident of Fort St. John and teacher at Baldonnal Elementary School, Sandra Cushway, who’s been actively investing the effects of MDI.
“I assumed ten years ago, when the plant went in, that everything was going as it should be; and it wasn’t until I received over 6,000 pages of non-compliance records [dating back to early 2000’s) that I actually started reading into things and became very, very concerned at that time,” Cushway says of her efforts.
Some concerns Cushway brought to light were the environmental effects on both air quality and water supply, the carcinogenic effects (i.e. the development of asthma and cancer), as well as the previous promises of LP Peace Valley that they would not use MDI when first applying to build a plant in town; albeit approximately a decade ago and under different management.
“They have been documented to cause asthma, lung damage, and in severe cases, fatal reaction,” Curshway reads from the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) of the United States. “Worker exposures are already subject to protective controls in occupational settings, but EPA is concerned about potential health effects that may result from exposure to the consumer or self-employed worker while using products containing uncured MDI.”
Cushway adds, “When it’s [supporting documents] talking about health hazards, it’s talking about the uncured MDI, which is also what goes up the stack. So that’s where the concern is, not once it’s finished its production and it’s in boards.”
After Cushway concluded, it was time for LP Peace Valley representatives to present their case for MDI approval, which was conducted by Plant Manager Wayne Perry and Environmental Manager Lindsay Sahaydak.
“When we go to do this project, we are going to spend a significant amount of money to modify our facility,” Perry said. “We have a high safety record because we have a high care and compassion for the safety of our people within the organization.”
Perry goes on to say the ‘significant amount of money’ will primary go towards the plant’s ventilation system, as he stated that most heath concerns relate to workers inside the facility and not necessary residents within the community.
According to Perry, approximately 90 per cent of OSB plants within North America use MDI in their manufacturing process, including a facility he used to run in Alberta before coming to Fort St. John, which again, he says had the best environmental record within the province when it was under his control.
A final decision from the Ministry of Environment and Environmental Assessment Office regarding this application is expected to be made on November 3rd.