Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection issues final state air quality plan approval for Palmer Renewable Energy's biomass-fired power plant in Springfield after determining facility will not exceed state, federal emissions standards

BOSTON , July 4, 2011 (press release) – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a Conditional Air Quality Plan Approval to Palmer Renewable Energy, LLC (PRE) for a biomass-fired power generating facility at 1000 Page Boulevard in Springfield. MassDEP reviewed and approved the facility under its Air Pollution Control Regulations, which require the PRE facility to meet numerous state and federal air quality control requirements including the National Ambient Air Quality Standards established under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

MassDEP determined that the air emissions from the facility, when added to background pollutant concentrations, will not exceed any of the health-protective standards required by state and federal law. In the plan approval, MassDEP imposed numerous limits on the emissions from this facility, and required monitoring on a continuous basis to ensure the facility is operated within the strict limits of the permit. MassDEP has full authority to enforce these limits.

This approval solely addresses the required state air quality approval for a power generating facility of this nature and does not supersede other state and local permitting requirements.

As part of the review process, MassDEP had released a draft plan approval and on April 5, 2011, conducted a public hearing, and subsequently reviewed significant written comments. Based on the comments received, MassDEP revised the approval to make it more protective of public health.

The revisions include a risk management plan for ammonia storage, a benefit agreement for the community that includes funding of local health improvements, a reduction in the allowable boiler emissions for volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, a revision of time limitations for wood deliveries and silo loading, an inclusion of a goal for achieving a minimum efficiency of 33 percent within five years of commencing operation, the voluntary retrofit of diesel trucks with emission controls, the requirement to cover or enclose all wood delivery trucks, and the purchase of emission offsets of nitrogen oxide compounds, an ozone precursor.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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