Clean Air  

BREDL Comments on Trigen Biopower Title V Permit

BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
www.BREDL.org ~ PO Box 88 Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email: BREDL@skybest.com

December 3, 2001  

Fred Langenbach, P.E.
Division of Air Quality
1641 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1641

Re: Trigen Biopower North Cove, McDowell County, NC Draft Permit No. 05600T08

Dear Mr. Langenbach:

On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and our members in McDowell County, I write to comment on the Trigen Title V permit. We hereby request that before the permit is issued a public hearing be held for the benefit of affected residents living in North Cove and other communities in McDowell County.

General Comments

Trigen’s request for PSD avoidance notwithstanding, we request that DAQ testing should include all criteria pollutants emitted from the stack. Also, a thorough evaluation of hazardous air pollutants should be done and stipulations for the control of HAPs should be included in the Title V permit. The burning of waste material and the special atmospheric conditions found in mountain communities require additional measures of testing and record keeping to protect public health and to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws.

Re-testing for PSD avoidance must be conducted before the Title V permit is issued, not “within six months of permit issuance.” A facility must comply with air quality requirements at all times. Issuing the permit before determining whether the facility may avoid PSD would exempt violations which occur before testing can be completed. The DAQ cannot permit a facility to operate as a minor PSD before certifying it as such.

Specific Comments

Permit Section 2.1.A .4. Emission Limits for Criteria Pollutants Are Unenforceable

As a practical matter, the emission limits for PM-10 and other pollutants are not enforceable. Non-compliance with or a change in state toxics rules could affect emissions but affected citizens would have no remedy in this matter. The draft permit states:

“In order to avoid applicability of 15A NCAC 2D .0530 (g) for major sources, boiler (ID No. WBES-1) shall discharge into the atmosphere less than 250 tons each of PM-10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and VOCs per consecutive 12 month period.”

The maximum PM-10 limit is based on NC Toxic Air Pollutant limits and an estimate of heat content in burning carpet waste. The equation used to determine allowable PM-10 emissions from the burning of wood and carpet waste is:

Ec = [(0.38 Qw) + (0.51 Qo)] / Qt

The total particulate emission rate (Ec) is directly proportional to carpet waste heat input (Qo), therefore an increase in the allowable amount of carpet waste burned will increase the annual tons of the criteria pollutant PM-10. According to the DAQ air permit review, carpet waste heat input (Qo) is a variable “dependent on the actual amount burned at any time.” The Title V Air Permit Application Review states further:

“The allowable emissions rate for carpet waste was determined based on the allowable carpet waste input to the boiler of 1370 pounds per hour times 14,000 Btu per pound of carpet equates to a maximum of 19.18 million Btu per hour. Applying this heat input to the equation in 2D .0503(c) provides an allowable emission rate for the carpet of 0.51 pounds per million Btu.”

The allowable carpet waste emissions rate is included in the draft permit as a constant (0.51) as determined by this equation:

Eo = 1.090 Q-0.2594

The carpet waste heat input (Q=19.18 mmBtu/hour) is a factor of the maximum amount of carpet burned (1370 pounds/hour) times the carpet heat content (14,000 Btu/pound). The 1370 pounds per hour, or 6000 tons/year, is based on toxic air pollutant regulation 15A NCAC 2Q .0701 and, according to the draft permit, is state enforceable only.

A change in state rules, a new estimation of toxic air emissions, or a re-evaluation of carpet waste heat content could change the allowable annual tonnage of carpet waste burned in Trigen’s boilers. This would affect the PM-10 output because the emission rate is determined in part by the parameter for carpet waste emissions (Eo). SO2 and other criteria pollutants would also be affected.

The DAQ has already acknowledged that the facility has the potential to exceed 250 tons per year of NOx and CO. A DAQ inspection on February 10, 2000 found a CO level of 6,328 ppm, indicating potential annual CO emissions of 4,200 tons. According to the inspector, at that time the plant appeared to be operating within permit requirements. As written, the draft permit makes it difficult or impossible for citizens to determine if Trigen is in compliance with emission limits.

Permit Section 2.2 Permit Shield Not Properly Applied

The draft permit states that Trigen is shielded from New Source Performance Standards, 40 CFR 60 Subpart Db—Standards of Performance for Industrial-Commercial-Institutional Steam Generating Units— because plant modifications which have occurred since 1985 escape the definition of modification under 40 CFR 60.15. However, in a decade and a half the aggregate costs may well have exceeded 50% of fixed capital costs. The overfire air system alone reportedly cost $600,000. The regulation is silent on the timing of modifications and makes no exemption for alterations occurring over time.

The permit shield should not exempt the Trigen facility from applicable requirements under 40 CFR 60.40b . If the plant was not designed for carpet waste as an alternative fuel, it is subject to 40 CFR 60.14 (e)(4) and 60.1 Subpart A.

40 CFR 60.14 (e) The following shall not, by themselves, be considered modifications under this part:

(4) Use of an alternative fuel or raw material if, prior to the date any standard under this part becomes applicable to that source type, as provided by 60.1, the existing facility was designed to accommodate that alternative use. A facility shall be considered to be designed to accommodate an alternative fuel or raw material if that use could be accomplished under the facility’s construction specifications as amended prior to the change. Conversion to coal required for energy considerations, as specified in section 111(a)(8) of the Act, shall not be considered a modification. [emphasis added]

Moreover, the burning of carpet wastes at the Trigen plant constitutes a change in method of operation and carpet waste certainly adds pollutants not previously emitted.

40 CFR 60.2 Modification means any physical change in, or change in the method of operation of, an existing facility which increases the amount of any air pollutant (to which a standard applies) emitted into the atmosphere by that facility or which results in the emission of any air pollutant (to which a standard applies) into the atmosphere not previously emitted.

Therefore, we believe that New Source Performance Standards apply to the Trigen facility.

Respectfully submitted,

Louis Zeller


Title V Fact Sheet
BREDL comments on other Title V permits