Pulp mill chemicals threaten 5,000 residents of Mackenzie, British Columbia.

27 January 2009 Report from the  Vancouver Sun

If the chlorine-dioxide tanks at the Mackenzie pulp mill rupture, they could send a yellow cloud of deadly gas into the town of Mackenzie, threatening the lives of the 5,000 people who live there.

Used to bleach wood-pulp, chlorine dioxide is one of the most dangerous chemicals stored at the pulp mill. It's a liquid, but when concentrated chlorine dioxide is exposed to air and light, it decomposes into chlorine gas, the same gas used on soldiers in trenches in the First World War. It's heavier than air and creeps over the terrain with the prevailing winds. Diluted to 15 parts per million, it smells like bleach and causes severe throat irritation. It's considered very dangerous at 50 parts per million and at 1,000 parts per million, it causes instant death.

Mackenzie's chlorine dioxide is stored in three five-tonne tanks: 1.6 million litres of deadly chemical, safe only as long as there is money to keep the mill's power boiler operating. It's extremely volatile and cannot be moved by rail or truck. It's made at the mill site. "The only way they can get rid of it is to use it," said former Mackenzie mill worker Rod Clark. He said the province is going to have to run the Mackenzie mill to solve the problem.

Fifteen years ago at Powell River, a 600,000-litre chlorine-dioxide tank -- a little over a third of the amount stored at Mackenzie -- ruptured in what the environment ministry called the largest chemical spill in B.C. history. It sent a thick, yellowish cloud of heavier-than air gas flowing through the mill site and into nearby Malaspina Strait. Winds sent the gas cloud perilously close to the first nations village of Sliammon, three km away. Workers described the rupture as "a scene from hell" as thick clouds of the gas crept over the mill site.

Will Gunns be storing chlorine dioxide onsite and if so will the same threats as posed from the Canadian Mill be threatening Tamar residents?

Where is Gunns' risk assessment and management plan?