L’Anse residents reported issues, with air quality at Permit hearing for L’Anse Warden Plant
Something in the Air: Residents question plant’s safety
JAN 29, 2019 | JOSHUA VISSERS | The Mining Gazette mininggazette.com
L’ANSE — A group of nearly 50 members of the public attended a public information session and hearing held by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Division last week to learn and express concerns about a permit that would allow the L’Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC), owned by Convergen, to burn 50,000 tons of engineered fuel pellets annually.
The pellets are made of pre-consumer plastics and labeling waste gathered directly from manufacturers.
Catherine Andrews from Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) and other attendees questioned the fuel mix during testing and operation.
“It’s not like pellets are going to replace TDF (tire-derived fuels),“ Ed Lancaster from the DEQ responded.
The DEQ facilitator, Mark Mitchell, added the blends aren’t specified by the DEQ and can change based on the needs and supplies of LWEC’s owners.
Andrews also brought up the review of the permit conducted by lawyers with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), which asserted inadequate monitoring, elimination of an hourly limit on hydrogen chloride emissions from the previous permit and errors in baseline calculations that allow LWEC to skirt requirements for nitrogen oxide controls that comparable plants are required to use.
Steve Karkkainen, who moved to East Fall Street in L’Anse during 2015, said he has experienced “caustic smells” he believes are emitted from LWEC.
East Fall Street is less than a mile southeast from LWEC’s plant, and when the wind is from the plant’s direction, he experiences the strange scent.
“The smell is almost like a ground particle board, or like glue and wood mixed and burning,” he said. “As soon as I taste it, I start to cough, and my coughing doesn’t quit until about a half hour after I go into the house.”
He wanted to know what he’s tasting and why it makes him cough so harshly. He said it had even happened earlier that day while he was clearing snow on his property.
“What kind of material am I ingesting, and how long is this going to go on?” he asked.
Joe Scanlan, the DEQ official from the Marquette district office on the panel, said he could be called out to check the air quality and would follow up with Karkkainen, but didn’t offer a clear explanation of what was happening.
Karkkainen expressed concern about what the mix of fuels might be creating during the burning process if the plant is allowed to alter the mixture whenever they want.
“You can measure all these, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and everything else, but it’s not going to be consistent,” he said.
Several other attendees also expressed concern about the ambiguity of the fuel mixture allowed by the permit.
“You can’t just helter-skelter mix TDFs and chips and railroad ties. … It’s not consistent, and it’s going to result in different levels of contaminants,” Andrews said. “I don’t understand how you can assure us that our health is protected by following this permit.”
DEQ officials said they would look into what the typical fuel mixture at the LWEC would be, and assured the public that the testing included worst-case scenario possibilities.
The public comment period has been extended to midnight on Jan. 30. Comments can be sent to DEQ-AQD-PTIPublicComments@michigan.gov or by mail to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, Permit Section, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division (AQD), is asking for comments from the public on a proposed Permit to Install (PTI) for L’Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC). The AQD will accept comments on the proposed PTI until the close of the comment period at the public hearing on January 23, 2019. We will review all comments before we make a final decision on the proposal. MDEQ: Proposed Project Summary: L’Anse Warden Electric Company
State gets public input on plant’s permit applications | 7-27-2017
KeweenawNow.com Guest Article: Citizens still concerned about community health hazards from L’Anse Warden Electric Company plant | 4-03-2016
Groups Say U.P. Biomass Power Plant Blankets Community in Toxic Soot| pfpi.net | 9-9-2015