By Benjamin Gohs
Public comments are now being taken on a Kirtland Products application for a Permit to Install to extend some of its mandatory exhaust stack testing deadlines.
According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Air Quality Division (AQD), a public hearing on the matter—regarding the plant’s air and grinder/dryer systems—will only be held if one is requested, in writing, by Friday Sept. 12.
“Since the current wood supply on-site has low moisture content, the AQD is requesting that the company perform the stack testing when a new, more representative wood supply is available,” stated the MDEQ. “The low moisture content of the current wood supply would likely take less processing time, and therefore, not give emissions data that is comparable to what was evaluated in the previous permit review. A new wood supply will be received in the fall, and the company will perform stack testing no later than Dec. 31.”
According to MDEQ documents, the current permit requires stack testing to occur within 180 days of the Jan 21 permit issuance date—which was July 20—but the application requesting the change was received on June 26.
“The previous permit review determined that the operation of the equipment will not violate any of the MDEQ’s rules nor the National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” stated MDEQ in its announcement on the matter. “The facility’s impact will not exceed the available increments for particulate matter less than ten microns.”
According to the MDEQ, no physical or operational modifications are being requested, nor is any new equipment proposed to be installed.
“An ‘Air Use Permit,’ sometimes called a ‘Permit to Install,’ provides permission to emit air contaminants up to certain specified levels,” the DEQ says. “These levels are set by state and federal law, and are set to protect health and welfare. By staying within the levels set by the permit, a facility is operating lawfully, and public health and air quality are protected.”
According to the MDEQ, the Air Quality Division has no authority to regulate noise, local zoning, property values, off-site truck traffic or lighting.
A spokesman for Kirtland Products did not respond to a request for interview by press time.
Kirtland originally submitted a Permit to Install application on March 31, 2011, to install a new wood pelletizing process to manufacture wood stove pellets from a 60/40 mix of green softwood and hardwood chips. After demonstrating their proposed process met air quality requirements, permit 47-11 was issued on June 27, 2011. Then, on Aug. 29 of that year, permit 47-11A was issued to allow Kirtland a small modification to its storage silo ventilation.
Kirtland began operation in December 2011, with the testing completed in September 2012. Particulate emissions from green wood grinding, pelletizing and cooling violated the permit limits for 47-11A. Kirtland then was permitted to modify its allowable emissions within governmental standards.
The public comment period, which began on Aug. 13, will end on Sept. 12.
If a request for public hearing and informational session is made by the deadline, the meeting would begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 24, at Boyne City Hall, 319 North Lake St., in Boyne City.
Interested parties may call the Air Quality Division on or after Sept. 15 at (517) 284-6794 to see if a public hearing has been scheduled.
The public may submit written comments and hearing requests on the matter to Mark C. Mitchell, Acting Permit Section Supervisor, MDEQ, AQD, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760.
You may also comment online at www.deq.state.mi.us/aps/cwerp.shtml by clicking on “Submit Comment” under the Kirtland Products, Permit to Install No. 47-11C listing.
Statements received by Sept. 12 will be considered before decisions are made. If a public hearing is requested, the comment period will be extended until the close of the hearing.