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Permit Granted: Plant also gets consent order

L’ANSE – The state issued a permit and consent order Monday to the L’Anse Warden Electric Co. aimed at curbing plant pollution residents have complained about for years.

After taking public comments into account, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Air Quality Division issued the documents allowing the downtown L’Anse biomass facility to continue operating – if it complies with the new permit and consent order and pays the state $108,700 by the end of the month.

The permit allows the company to operate its boiler without burning pentachlorophenol (PCP) treated railroad ties. In addition to self-testing, the permit also requires the company to repair its corroded emissions stack and limit the amount of creosote-treated railroad ties it burns to 17 tons per hour.

The consent order aims to resolve air pollution violations the facility committed, including citations for high emissions of hydrochloric acid in September 2015 due to burning PCP ties and fugitive dust releases in February.

In addition to reviewing the permit requirements, the consent order requires the company to permanently enclose its fuel conveyor system to eliminate fugitive emissions within six months. MDEQ can also impose fines of up to $10,000 per violation per day, if the company does not adhere to the specifications included in the documents.

The consent order will be in effect for at least five years and would have to be transferred to any new owner. The plant has been for sale for some time, so the permit could make a sale more likely.

“We are committed to working with all our community partners, the MDEQ and EPA to resolve the issues,” said Steve Walsh, CEO of Traxys, LWEC owner. “We also note the importance of local generation in the U.P. that is critical to support the transmission system.”

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