Canadian Biomass Magazine

Updated: WPAC hosting Belt Dryer Symposium to improve safety

October 27, 2020

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada, in co-operation with BC Forest Safety Council, WorkSafeBC and media partner Canadian Biomass magazine, is planning a Belt Dryer Safety Symposium to be held November 25, 2020.

Most Canadian wood pellet plants use rotary drum dryers to remove moisture from biomass feedstock. Recently, however, Canada’s newest pellet plants, particularly in British Columbia, have instead begun using belt dryers. Although belt dryers have slightly higher capital, operating, and maintenance costs, their advantages include: more flexibility in feedstock and lower operating temperature resulting in lower emissions of volatile organic compounds, lower fire risk, and improved preservation of lignin. Belt dryers may be direct fired with hot air or indirect fired by using thermal oil or steam with a heat exchanger.

As belt dryers have become more common, the pellet industry has experienced several safety incidents over the past few years. The purpose of the Belt Dryer Safety Symposium is to share the learnings from these incidents and for individual operators to share in-house safe operating procedures with their industry colleagues.

The symposium will include presentations from all the operators of belt dryers in British Columbia. They will describe their dryer, its energy system, the safety incidents they’ve experienced and the results of their post-incident investigations. We’ll also be comparing direct versus indirect energy systems and examining the use of process safety bowtie analysis as a means of systematically identifying and managing critical controls.


The symposium will be held online. It is scheduled for Nov. 25, 2020, from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The target audience is pellet industry bed dryer operators, WorkSafeBC and other WPAC members and pellet industry at large. The symposium is open to all WPAC members.

The agenda for the event is as follows:

11:00 a.m.: Opening comments & participant instructions, Fahimeh Yazdan Panah, Director of Research and Technical Development, WPAC
11:05 a.m.: Welcoming remarks, Scott Bax, COO, Pinnacle Renewable Energy
11:10 a.m.: A focus on belt dryer safety, Mike Tasker, Occupational Safety Officer, WorkSafeBC
11:15 a.m.: Pinnacle’s belt dryer experience at Lavington and Smithers, Steve Mueller, Director Health and Safety, Pinnacle Renewable Energy
11:45 a.m.: Skeena’s experience in Terrace, Nathan Bond, Plant Superintendent, Skeena Bioenergy
12:00 p.m.: Group discussion: common issues and lessons learned, led by Scott Bax and Mike Tasker
12:15 p.m.: Safe operating procedures in Fort St. John and Chetwynd, Jimmy Boudreau, Plant Manager, Canfor
12:30 p.m.: Threat identification and use of bowtie analysis, Bill Laturnus, Senior Safety Advisor, BC Forest Safety Council
12:45 p.m.: Sharing knowledge with safety alerts, Bill Laturnuus
12:50 p.m.: WorkSafeBC’s observations and recommendations, Geoff Thomson, Occupational Safety Officer, WorkSafeBC
1:00 p.m.: Recap, formation of a belt dryer working group, and next steps, Scott Bax
1:15 p.m.: Symposium adjourns

Anyone seeking more information should contact Fahimeh Yazdan Panah, WPAC’s director of research and technical development:

Tel: 1-778-990-2656


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