The Oregon Toxics Alliance is appealing the issuance of a pollution permit to a new Eugene-area biomass plant, saying the wood-fired power plant will release a host of pollutants and 234,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Seneca Sustainable Energy received an air permit last month from the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency. The alliance filed the appeal Friday, arguing that the permit doesn’t require enough pollution control or monitoring.
The company, an offshoot of Eugene-based Seneca Sawmill, would burn forest residue and bark, sawdust and shavings from mill operations at the plant to generate 18.8 megawatts of electricity a year and provide heat for the mill’s drying kilns.
The drying kilns have been heated with natural gas, which releases 3,500 tons of carbon a year, Seneca says. The company notes that many conservation groups and regulators see biomass as carbon neutral, since it burns renewable resources — namely, trees.
But the toxics alliance questions the sustainability of the plant. In addition to carbon releases, the plant would be Eugene’s largest source of styrene, acetaldehyde and naphthalene, all carcinogens, the alliance says. It would burn 32 tons of wood an hour, the alliance says.
Seneca plans to open the $45 million plant next year on six acres at its Highway 99 site north of Eugene.
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian – http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/11/activists_say_eugene_biomass_p.html