Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill in Maine gets state regulator's preliminary approval to raise its carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide emissions; approval subject to final DEP action after public comment period

LOS ANGELES , July 24, 2012 () –

The Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill in Old Town, Maine, will be allowed to raise certain air pollution levels under a preliminary approval from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), reported the Bangor Daily News on July 23.

The mill will be allowed to raise its annual emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) to a 929-ton maximum, up from 407 tons. The mill had asked for 1,045 tons/year, according to the article by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.

The level of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions allowed also was increased, to 111 tons/year from 97 tons/year now, according to the DEP announcement on July 14, the Bangor Daily News reported.

CO levels approved by the DEP will stand until 2015, when stricter standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take effect. Then the CO levels at the mill must drop to 532 tons/year.

The mill invested in improvements to its troublesome 1980s-era boiler this year, said Melanie Loyzim, the DEP air quality bureau director, in an e-mail, reported the Bangor Daily News.

The DEP’s decision will not be final until after a period for public comment. Afterwards, the chief of Maine’s DEP Patricia Aho must give the final approval. Even then, it can be appealed to the Board of Environmental Protection.

Opponents of the emissions decision must file a request for a hearing by the board by Aug. 3, but the deadline for written comments is Aug. 13, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Two of Maine’s environmental groups said that the mill’s emissions boost is not a priority for them. The Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Clean Air Task Force both said they are not working on the issue.

The mill has exceeded pollution limits for years and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to the DEP and the EPA, according to a January article by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, reported the Bangor Daily News.

Old Town Fuel & Fiber and the DEP are still negotiating a US$497,000 pollution fine that the DEP proposed for the mill last year.

The Old Town mill produces pulp and is experimenting with making butanol, a pulp-based fuel, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The primary source of this article is the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting via the Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine, on July 23, 2012.


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