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Public weighs in on proposed biomass plant modification

July 24, 2013 by

Local residents and public officials turned out for a public hearing hosted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday, July 18, at the Lake County Senior Center.

The purpose of the hearing was to accept public comment on a proposed modified air quality permit on behalf of Lakeview Cogeneration, LLC.

The public comment period, prior to the meeting, was extended to Thursday, Aug. 22.  See related story elsewhere for more details.

The modified permit would increase the proposed biomass power generation facility’s emission limit of PM 10 particulate matter from 14 tons per year to 32 tons per year.

The permit was originally issued on Sept. 14, 2010, according to a press release from the DEQ.

Conditions of the permit include an annual contribution of $7,500 per calendar year to the Town of Lakeview for five years for implementation of air quality improvement strategies.

Lakeview Cogeneration, LLC, will also accept chipped and clean Town of Lakeview land clearing debris that can be combusted under the permit’s terms, provided it meet’s the firm’s fuel specifications.

Mark Fisher, a permit writer for the DEQ, and Mark Bailey, also with Oregon DEQ, hosted the meeting.

Following and question-and-answer session, the public hearing was opened to allow recorded testimony from the public.

Paul Fouch, president of Save Our Rural Oregon and of Klamath Falls, was among those that raised specific questions on the permit and project.

“We’re prejudiced against any permit which locates them where there they have bad air quality or in residential areas,” he said.

Fouch also asked for the number of woodstoves in the Lakeview area needed for conversion to higher-efficiency units, referring to the $7,500 annual contribution by the town for such strategies.

Other questions by Fouch included why the permit only accounts for stack emissions and not truck traffic as well as fire events.

Fouch said he saw the potential for a lack of accounting and control of PM 2.5 emissions, a lack of provisions for shut downs in the event of EPA air quality violations and that the DEQ should not bypass the air quality attainment process in order to push the permit approval through.

Fouch also questioned the lack of an approval process following the approval of the permit.

Lake County Resources Initiative Exec. Dir. Jim Walls testified that he firmly believed that air quality issues will be a wash once Collins Companies remove its boiler from operation and once the biomass plant is operational.

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