Louisiana Pacific, a.k.a. Peace Valley OSB, mounted an impressive display at the Cultural Centre last Wednesday [Jan. 30] evening, with nine company representatives present to explain their process for manufacturing oriented strandboard (OSB), and to justify their proposed use of Methylene Diphenyl Isocyanate (MDI) as a binder to glue the wood-chips together. The Fort St. John operation is evidently a Big Deal for the company: they actually brought up three experts from their head office in Nashville, Tennessee, for the event.
At the question & answer session that followed the Open House, Lindsay Sahaydak, the Environmental Manager at the local plant, acknowledged that LP has not always handled environmental issues adequately in the past, but attempted to persuade the audience that the company has now cleaned up its act.
Her argument was unconvincing. For instance, Ian Coote, General Manager of “Peace Valley OSB” has been doing his best to obfuscate and prevaricate. Just three examples:
1. Some 10 years ago, Ike Barber, the CEO of FSJ LP at the time, gave us the assurance that the company would not use MDI. LP seems to have kept its word until now. When he was challenged at the December meeting in Baldonnel as to how he could now propose the use of MDI, Mr. Coote blithely responded that he was not in charge ten years ago and so he has no responsibility for whatever was promised then and those assurances do not apply. What a convenient excuse. By this example, any business can make promises to the public, then simply change managers and break their word.
2. At Wednesday’s question and answer session, Sandra Cushway told the panel that she has been requesting copies of the company’s Emergency Response Plan since early January but has got no reply. Mr. Coote blandly said that he just didn’t have the time to collect this information: each of the many sections of the factory has its own Response Plan, far too many for Mr. Coote to pull together and forward to Sandra. And he tried to leave it at that.
I was astonished at this effrontery.
What if there is an emergency at the plant? What do the employees do then? Doesn’t each division have a copy of its ERP at hand? Surely Mr. Coote can direct each division manager to copy his particular ERP and forward it to Mr. Coote, who could then have his secretary send the package on to Sandra.
3. Again Mr. Coote avoided answering questions as to why LP failed to respond promptly and in good faith when spills of toxic water took place, flooding and contaminating the land of at least two neighbours.
Louisiana Pacific’s goal is to maximize its profits, not to look after the well-being of the public.
I urge all residents of the Peace area to oppose PVOSB and its plan to employ MDI and thus contaminate our environment further. Our world is already suffering an unprecedented assault from many quarters: let us stop this one.
Fort St. John