Department of Ecology News Release - November 13, 2012

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Wheat Growers and Ritzville Company receive Environmental Excellence Awards

SPOKANE - The state of Washington’s highest environmental honors went to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) and the Ritzville Warehouse Company last night at the Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in Coeur d’Alene.

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) presented two Environmental Excellence Awards at the event, singling out the two entities for their “extra mile” work to protect the environment, while they do business that supports Washington’s economy.

Ecology Regional Director Grant Pfeifer presented the award to WAWG President Eric Meier for supporting and participating over the years in the efforts of the Agricultural Burning and Research Task Force. Pfeifer said the task force has “...improved the lives of Eastern Washington citizens by eliminating smoky days while maintaining fire as an important tool for farming.”

The agricultural burning task force has been working with WAWG and its membership for 20 years to develop and support Ecology’s agricultural burn program.

“We have worked as a team to make our internationally-recognized smoke management and permitting program successful in Washington and a model for others,” Pfeifer said.

Early this year, the task force reinforced its commitment to clean air by voting to increase the acreage fee to help keep the program alive and well. That’s a fee that some wheat-farming task force members have to pay too. 

Pfeifer also presented an Environmental Excellence Award to John Anderson, president of Ritzville Warehouse Company, for going through big growth and changes over the years while still complying with all air quality regulations. 

Ritzville Warehouse Company received its first Ecology air permit in 2001 for a grain receiving and storage facility with a throughput of up to 24-million bushels of grain per year. Since that time, the permit has been modified several times to allow for growth up to 36 million bushels per year.

The company also recently applied for and received a permit for a new grain elevator in Lincoln County with a throughput of up to 2 million bushels of grain per year.

Throughout all these challenging growing pains, under John Anderson’s leadership, Ritzville Warehouse Company has had a perfect record of compliance with air quality laws.

The company also uses several innovative methods to control fugitive dust emissions from its large, outdoor storage piles. This means Ritzville Warehouse protected the public from particulate pollution that can be released from these storage piles.

Particulates can enter the lungs and cause structural and chemical damage to the pulmonary system. 

Because of these extraordinary efforts, even with tough new federal standards to meet for particulate matter, the company has maintained compliance with air quality regulations over the years.

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Media Contact: Jani Gilbert, Communications, 509-329-3495; cell, 509-990-9177; e-mail jani.gilbert@ecy.wa.gov.

For more information:

WAWG (www.wawg.org/)

Agricultural Burning (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/aginfo/agricultural_homepage.htm) 

Ritzville Warehouse (www.ritzwhse.com/)

Ecology's Environmental Excellence Awards (www.ecy.wa.gov/environmental_excellence.htm)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)