Department of Ecology News Release - August 5, 2009

09-195

Green Power in Pasco ordered to shut down

SPOKANE - An Eastern Washington synthetic fuel company has been ordered to stop operating immediately because it violated environmental air quality regulations.

Green Power Inc. installed a synthetic fuel reactor on property owned by the Port of Pasco without the proper permits and had the potential to emit harmful toxic air pollution while operating.

Green Power’s chief executive officer, Michael Spitzauer, applied for the required air quality permit in February 2008. But that was about eight months after the company began building the synthetic fuel reactor. State law requires an air quality “notice of construction” permit from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) before construction begins.

The facility is designed to convert 100 tons per day of solid waste into oil by using a synthetic fuel reactor. The reactor vaporizes the solid waste and condenses the vapor to make a liquid synthetic fuel. The portion of the vapor that cannot be condensed is partially burned at the facility, and the resulting emissions released into the air.

Emissions from such a reactor depend on the type of feed stock, but they potentially could include high potency carcinogens such as dioxins and furans. Green Power did not disclose what emissions would be released from the reactor, so Ecology could not evaluate the operation’s air pollution potential.

From February to July 2008, Ecology air quality specialists and engineers worked with Green Power to develop a permit, after construction already started on the synthetic fuel reactor. Ecology issued Green Power a notice of violation, but a fine was not issued while Ecology worked with the company to get the proper permit.

Ecology informed Green Power officials that the technology they proposed to use to control air emissions would not meet state air quality standards. In early July 2008, Ecology requested more information on the design of Green Power’s proposed air pollution control system. Green Power never responded.

The process of developing the proper permit was suspended in early July 2008 when Green Power and its consultants stopped all communication with Ecology. Indications at that time were that Green Power had gone out of business. Recently, Ecology received word that Green Power built the facility and may have operated it.

“We actively support innovative energy production in Washington state and work hard to help industry through the permitting phase so that we can foster healthy economic growth,” said Grant Pfeifer, Ecology’s Eastern Regional Office manager. “But our job is to make sure we get jobs and industry that don’t harm our citizens and communities with pollution. In this case, we weren’t given the chance to give the public that assurance.”

Today (Wednesday, Aug. 5), Ecology ordered Green Power to stop operating the synthetic fuel reactor immediately and shut down the system permanently within three days. The company also was denied an air quality permit, and has received a second notice of violation that could lead to financial penalties.

Green Power has 30 days to appeal the order to shut down to either Ecology or the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board in Olympia. It also has 30 days to respond to the latest notice of violation.

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Media Contact: Seth Preston, Ecology communications manager, 360-407-6848; cell 360-584-5744; e-mail spre461@ecy.wa.gov 

For more information about air quality: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/airhome.html