By Benjamin J. Gohs
Wood Pellet manufacturer Kirtland Products is looking to have some of its emissions levels modified to allow for an increase in particulate matter on some equipment while lowering its aggregate output.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is currently accepting public comments on the matter between now and the Nov. 13 public hearing.
“All we’re asking to do is to reduce the overall permitted levels and to redistribute the permitted levels between the various equipment, but still have an overall output lower than the original levels provided,” said Kirtland Products CEO Leon Tupper. “We anticipate we will prevail through the process.”
An informational meeting on the matter will occur between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday Nov. 13 at Boyne City Hall, 319 North Lake St. in Boyne City. The public hearing portion of the meeting will begin at 7 p.m.
Air quality officials of the MDEQ will provide a brief introduction concerning the proposal and answer any questions from the public.
According to the MDEQ, the sole purpose of the public hearing portion of the meeting will be to take formal testimony on the record.
Anyone who needs accommodations regarding being able to attend, see or hear the meeting must contact Amie Hartman at (517) 284-6793 a week before the meeting.
“The public comment period and hearing are to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the (MDEQ’s) proposed conditional approval of the permit to install (application number 47-11B),” the MEDQ stated in its notice of permit. “It has been preliminarily determined that the modification of the wood pellet manufacturing plant will not violate any of the (MDEQ’s) rules nor the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”
The MDEQ further stated, “The facility’s impact will not exceed the available increments for particulate matter less than ten microns.”
Background information and present air quality according to the MDEQ
Kirtland Products, located at 1 Altair Drive in Boyne City’s Air Industrial Park, submitted a PTI application on March 31, 2011, to install a new wood pelletizing process.
The new wood pelletizing operation was for the manufacture of wood stove pellets from a 60/40 mix of green softwood and hardwood chips.
The location for the process was in an existing building in an industrial park near the Boyne City airport.
The process includes a wood fuel-fired, three-pass rotary dryer, associated conveyors, hammer mills, pelletizers, cooling, storage silos, and packaging equipment.
A basic process flow is green wood chips are delivered to the facility; first, the chips go through the grinder; they are then sent through the dryer, ground finer by the hammer mill; and then pelletized and cooled.
The facility is located in Charlevoix County, which is currently in attainment of all air quality standards.
Kirtland Products demonstrated to the satisfaction of the department that their proposed process met all the permitting requirements, and that the air quality standards would be protected.
PTI 47-11 was issued June 27, 2011.
A small modification to the ventilation on the storage silo was made with PTI 47-11A issued Aug. 29, 2011.
Kirtland Products began operation in December 2011.
The process was tested in September 2012, and particulate emissions from green wood grinding, pelletizing, and cooling were found to be in violation of the permit limits for PTI 47-11A.
As a resolution to this finding, Kirtland Products submitted PTI application No. 47-11B requesting modifications to the permitted particulate emission rates that would demonstrate compliance with the applicable standards.
Kirtland Products has proposed an upward adjustment for noncompliant emissions and a downward adjustment for compliant emissions based on the results of the September 2012 stack testing.
These proposed emission adjustments are necessary to assure compliance with the air quality standards.
The net sum of the increases and decreases in the particulate emission limits is an overall reduction in the allowable emissions.
In addition, the surrounding community has shown an interest in the facility operations and this project. So this application is going out for public review and comment before final action is taken.
The public is encouraged to present written views on the proposed permit action. Written comments should be sent to Ms. Mary Ann Dolehanty, Permit Section Supervisor, MDEQ, AQD, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760. Comments may also be submitted from the webpage http://www.deq.state.mi.us/aps/cwerp.shtml (click on “Submit Comment” under the Kirtland Products, Permit to Install No. 47-11B listing). All statements received by November 13, 2013, will be considered by the decision-maker prior to final permit action.
According to state officials, the MDEQ air quality department staff has developed draft permit terms and conditions which would ensure that the proposed facility design and operation are enforceable and that sufficient monitoring, record-keeping, and reporting would be performed by the applicant to determine compliance with these terms and conditions.
“If the permit application is deemed approvable, the delegated decision-maker may determine a need for additional or revised conditions to address issues raised during the public participation process,” The MDEQ stated.
According to the MDEQ, the air quality division has no authority to regulate noise, local zoning, property values, off-site truck traffic or lighting.