PT Mill applies to generate electricity – Concerns raised, comment period open

The PT mill, has filed for the ability to generate “green” energy by building a steam fired electricity plant, apparently fueled by biomass (meaning forest slash, etc.), recycled paper, and other reclaimed materials. Some emissions will be increased by this move, some decreased, further evaluation of the request is needed to understand it’s true affects. A public comment period of thirty days has been opened from July 16th to August 18th, but the public meeting won’t be held until August 17th (!). This is a very suspicious move by Ecology, and leads one to wonder about the motives of this permit.  Port Townsend Air Watchers and the Sierra Club have already asked for an extension on this, and this publication also believes that giving one day to the public to comment after the hearing does not constitute a decent interval for concerns about an ‘upgrade’ that will lead to significant new pollutants being dumped into the air we breathe.

The steam turbine would be fueled by “Hog Fuel” which is an unprocessed mix of barks and wood fiber. It is ground up after logging activities. It takes ‘slash’ that might be recycled on the ground and burns it. There is some controversy about this process, and whether it is ‘green’ or not. It appears that it is better than burning petroleum products. But, for example, would we be experiencing as much pollution from this if it were to burn natural gas?

While lowering some pollutants, like particulate matter, and Sulfer Dioxide,  we can expect to see increases in the following:

  • Fuel handling, mainly particulates, read ‘dust’ or ‘soot’
  • Carbon Monoxide pollution will increase by 43 Tons a year. This will bring us up to having 635 tons of CO put into our air, a year. Mainly people downwind or in the plume will be affected.  CO is a major component of smog, and may be contributing to ocean acidification. CO changes into CO2, the major component being considered as a contributor to global warming. It also leads to ozone depletion (remember concerns with the ozone hole in Antartica?)
  • Volitile Organic Carbons (VOC) will be increased by 1.1 Ton a year.

So how “green” is this steam plant going to be? That is debatable. You can add your input on this, learn more, and ask questions, as you will be living with this new pollution levels for decades to come. Questions also have been raised about the affects of stripping the forests of slash.

If you want to ask Ecology to extend the comment period, please call Angie Fritz at Ecology, (360)407-7393.

The copy of the proposed order can be viewed at the PT Library or at :

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/industrial/pulp_porttown.html

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