Big Trip 1

Currently, Chasm, 100 Mile House and parts of Williams Lake are all evacuated due to Forest fires. Over 39,000 people have been affected by the wildfires, and many of them are West Fraser friends and family. To all of the emergency personnel and wildland firefighters, your hard work does not go unnoticed. Thank you so much for all that you have and continue to do in fighting some of the worst blazes in British Columbia’s history. The fires may not be extinguished tonight or tomorrow, but they will be fought and we will rebuild stronger and more resilient than before.

The Big Project Part I

As mentioned earlier in my last post, I was fortunate enough to travel to all of West Fraser’s Canadian divisions from July 3rd to July 13th. The intent behind this trip is to get a well-rounded look at each mills’ nonhazardous residuals, and submit samples for testing on materials that could be handled more efficiently. The third part of the trip involves meeting with local partners to find useful ways of utilizing our wood products in agriculture, oil and gas, farming, and landscaping applications.

Cariboo – Central Interior July 3, 2017

The first day of my West Fraser Tour was an early start for the southernmost regions of The Cariboo/Central Interior of BC. On the agenda is meeting with four environmental coordinators at four different mills in three different forestry towns.

Chasm Sawmill (CHA), Chasm BC

The Chasm Sawmill is located 8km south of 70 Mile House, and 9km North of Clinton, BC. This mill was built by Ainsworth Lumber Company Ltd. and was repurchased by West Fraser in 2000. After almost two years’ worth of upgrades, the mill reopened in June 2002 with a capacity of 200,000 Mbfm per year. Once opened in 2002, the original stud mill was transformed into a dimensional lumber mill. The Sawmill itself is in a beautifully scenic area, surrounded by lush forests, the Arrowhead Hills, Chasm Ecological Reserve and the Marble Mountain Range. The highlight of Chasm is the glacial chasm the area is named after, a 10km opening in the earth with steep cliffs and jaw dropping geology that gradually makes its way down to Loon Lake. Everyone I spoke to at the sawmill had suggested I check it out before heading North, and I was not disappointed!

Chasm Sawmill. Image courtesy of West Fraser Timber Co. (2017)

The West Fraser Chasm Sawmill sign in Chasm, BC.

Checking out the Hog Fuel piles at Chasm Sawmills. This mill has a unique relationship with Domtar, Catalyst paper, and Cariboo Pulp and Paper, wherein their entire surplus hog piles can be used in the pulp and paper industry.

The incredible Painted Chasm, only a five minute drive from Chasm Sawmills. I was surprised to find bighorn sheep in the area, and there were hawks diving in and out of the chasm. The next stop was in 100 Mile House, approximately 60km north on Highway 97.

100 Mile Lumber (OML), 100 Mile House BC

The town of 100 Mile House is an hour’s drive south of William’s lake, or a two hour drive north of Kamloops, BC. The town got its name in 1862, as it was the next town center at the 100 mile mark on the Cariboo highway from Lillooet, BC. The town boasts the world’s largest set of cross-country skis, and is becoming well known for their variety of bird species in nearby provincial parks. The West Fraser lumber mill is neighbored by Norbord sawmills and the blue waters of Exeter Lake. 100 Mile Lumber produces dimensional boards in 12, 14, 16 and even 20 ft. lengths. On the bio solids front, OML caught my interest as they developed an onsite soil farm back in the 1970s. The goal was to look at the efficacy of ash and woody debris in soil remediation applications. Since biomaterials and soil problems were not on the radar back then, the farm was no longer contributed to and left to mature over the coming decades. When we returned during my visit, the soil in the area was a healthy dark brown filled with organics and covered in tall, lush grasses. We may be on to something here!

Photo courtesy of West Fraser Timber Co. (2017)

This is one of the hot ash disposal bins that are used throughout West Fraser’s divisions. There can be a variety of ash types produced at each plant, depending on the processing type and the medium that is burned. In the instance of 100 Mile lumber, wood shavings, bark, and chips are all used in their KONUS energy system for power.

The ash is then collected in metals bins like the one pictured left, and are taken to a landfill or used in bio alternatives such as soil amendment.

Pictured below: KONUS mixed ash

KONUS mixed ash

One of the large loaders that OML uses to push around their chip piles. These cool machines come with a variety of attachments that can be used to move logs, flatten hot decks, and handle all kinds of terrain and wood residuals.

This is the newest addition to the soil farm from the late 1970s. Different piles contained different recipes of ash, hog, sawdust and soil combinations, and left exposed to the elements for a few years until they were tested for remaining nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content. One of the benefits from this project is it helps predict what problems would arise decades from now in a new soil farm, and help to identify decomposition rates of incorporated materials.

The 100 Mile House Sign as you drive north on Highway 97.

100 Mile House’s Infamous Karhu cross country skis in front of the Information Center. Photo courtesy of 100 Mile House Tourist Information Center (2011).

Williams Lake Lumber and Williams Lake Plywood, Williams Lake BC

Williams Lake is the home of Rick Hansen, Carey Price, Sydney Goward, and the Timber Kings TV Show. This town is the largest city center between Kamloops and Prince George with approximately 10, 000 residents. Williams Lake is surrounded by cattle covered ranches, deep valleys, the Fraser River, Soda Creek and thousands of acres of spruce and pine forests. West Fraser has two mills in Williams Lake; Williams Lake Lumber (WLK) and Williams Lake Plywood (WLP). The lumber mill is a dimensional board mill that primarily processes large logs. Williams Lake Plywood produces spruce and pine plywood up to 3” thick. One of the unique relationships these mills have is the ability to send all wood residuals to the Williams Lake Power Plant next door. Williams Lake Lumber also exhibits a paved log yard, which reduces overall dirt in the wood residuals, makes for easy clean up, and produces cleaner hog fuel. These mills have essentially zero nonhazardous wastes to deal with!

Williams Lake Plywood. Photo courtesy of West Fraser (2017)

Williams Lake Lumber. Photo courtesy of West Fraser (2017)

The Williams Lake sign heading north on Highway 97.

This is the allotted space Williams Lake Lumber has for an onsite landfill, but as you can tell it hardy gets used. This is what level West Fraser aims to be at with all of their mills in the next decade; a pristine, waste free environment where other industries can benefit from our residuals or surplus.

Having a paved log yard makes a world of difference. The piles above are remnants of bark and wood fiber that gets scraped off when the logs are handled. Taking dirt and rocks out of the equation by paving drastically reduces the size of these piles and makes the cleaner debris more manageable.

I had a wonderful day in the Cariboo and was able to learn lots about each town and their respective industries. Something that became apparent very quickly is how different each and every mill is, regardless of whether or not they belong to the same company. In Williams Lake I was lucky enough to witness how plywood is made from start to finish. In 100 Mile House I was able to see just how effective wood wastes and ashes can be as a soil supplement. In Chasm, I saw ‘clinker’ glass for the first time; an incredibly dense residual from the bottom of a power boiler that looks like lava rock and amber glass. That was all for July 3rd, the agenda for July 4th will be looking at the two pulp mills in Quesnel, BC and getting a feel for bio solids.

See you later Central Interior,


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