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Update: Air-quality advisory lifted, three-day burning ban remains in central Cowichan
Burning remains banned within a 15-kilometre radius of Duncan city hall until Monday evening due to heavy smoke pollution, Victoria said Saturday following Friday's air-quality advisory.
That three-day advisory, from the environment ministry and Island Health, was lifted at around 9:15 a.m. "due to improving air quality," the ministry's release states.
Dense smoke particulates meant folks at risk — especially people with respiratory illnesses— were urged to stay indoors and in air-conditioned areas to reduce exposure until Monday evening, the ministry's release said.
Exposure was of particular concern for infants, the elderly, and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease, the earlier release reads.
The ministry doesn't blame any one burning culprit, but explains the pollution may stem from open fires, vehicles, industrial and commercial activity, and wood stoves.
Currently, wood stoves and fireplaces used as the only heat source must be CSA/EPA emissions approved, and use well-cured wood to ensure the best air flow.
The ban prohibits torching of any outdoor debris, without a permit or ministry approval.
No additional material can be added to existing fires either.
Breaking the ban could result in fines, Victoria warns.
Brian Houle, Crofton pulp mill's environmental manager, told the News Leader Pictorial Friday the mill was a contributing factor to the smoke crisis, but not the sole source.
"The mill does have emissions, and is in normal operating mode, but we've got an unusual situation where the air (in core Cowichan) isn't moving," he explained.
"It's an inversion with no wind.
"The air's holding to ground level. Mill emissions are at higher elevations."
The mill doesn't do open burning, he said, noting the air-quality advisory wasn't expected to affect mill operation.
"Everything we do is through appliances with emission controls."