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Spallumcheen residents angry over mill soot

VANCOUVER — Residents of Palisades mobile park home in Spallumcheen are speaking out against their neighbouring mill tonight. The ash from wood chips is piled near their trailer park, with the soot flying all over their properties. The problem is particularly noticeable on windy days.

They say they are frustrated with cleaning up the filth and worried it could be affecting their health.

“Why should I be a prisoner in my own home on windy days,” asks James Streeter. He tells Global News he’s been dealing with the problem for more than five years. Though the Tolko Mill has been cooperative — watering down the ash when he complains — Streeter is still frustrated with the situation.

“Why is it my responsibility to call them every time the wind picks up to tell them to put water on their soot pile,” he asks.

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Other neighbours agree.

“When the wind comes, we go inside, we close the windows and it’s almost like we’re on lockdown,” says Leanne Irwin. She says the soot is dropping the value of her home. “It’s dirtier, it’s dustier, our home has gone down $35,000 since we’ve moved in.”

Residents are also worried about their health. “When I get allergies in the springtime, I wake-up in the morning and I have to clear my nasal passage and you look in the Kleenex and it’s full of little black dots,” he says.

Global News has contacted Tolko and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, but has not heard back. Interior Health Authority confirms it has received complaints from residents, but says it is not the agency responsible for overseeing the issue. An online petition to rectify the situation has been launched by the residents.

With files from Angela Jung.