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B.C. forestry practices under scrutiny in documentary shown in U.K. | Globalnews.ca

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B.C.’s forestry practices came under international scrutiny after a BBC documentary highlighted wood pellets being burned for power in the U.K.

The long-form investigative documentary focuses on alleged environmental problems with the wood pellet industry in B.C.’s Interior.

The practices examined in the documentary were said to breach Canadian environmental regulations 189 times.

“As it turns out, the environmental and forest policies at play here in British Columbia, Alberta and across Canada, are a huge point of contention in the United Kingdom,” Tegan Hansen said, Stand.earth’s senior forest campaigner.

Stand.earth is an international organization that “challenges” corporations and governments to “treat people and the environment with respect.”

The documentary was not broadcast in Canada. Hansen said the reason B.C.’s wood pellet industry is a focus in the United Kingdom is the Drax Power Station in England.

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It runs off of wood pellets, most of which are sourced from B.C.


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Hansen said the Brits uncovered dozens of emissions violations at Drax’s plants in the interior.


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“In some cases emissions were twice the allowed limit, in one case in Burns lake, the emissions were triple the allowed limit,” she said.

Aside from the air quality issues, what troubles conservationists in the U.K. and B.C. is the extent to which Drax may be turning whole trees into fuel pellets, which  could undermine the company’s self proclaimed status as a green and renewable business.

While Drax told Global News its primary feedstock is residue from sawmills, Hansen said she’s seen whole logs at their facilities.

“I’ve walked around these pellet plants, I’ve seen the enormous piles of logs. Anyone who goes to a pellet plant knows that they’re grinding trees into pellets,” Hansen said.

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B.C. Forests Minister Bruce Ralston told Global News that “our old growth forests are not being turned into pellets” and on the emissions problem, they’ve all been minor, and Drax has been working to raise standards on the plants they’ve acquired in B.C.


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