Pellet plant obtains air quality permit

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) issued a Final Determination regarding the permit application for the proposed wood pellet manufacturing facility in Hoquiam, Washington.

After issuing a Preliminary Determination on a permit application from Pacific Northwest Renewable Energy (PNWRE), ORCAA opened a 40-day public comment period and hosted a Public Hearing in Hoquiam. After closing those events, ORCAA’s engineering staff reviewed and responded to all public comments. 

As the delegated authority implementing the New Source Review (NSR) program for its jurisdiction, ORCAA considers five criteria when deciding to approve or deny a Notice of Construction (NOC) application for a proposed stationary source of air pollution:

  • Will the proposed source comply with all federal, state, and local standards?
  • Will the proposed source use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for all pollutants whose emissions would increase?
  • Will any increase in emissions result in an exceedance of any federal or state air quality standard?
  • If a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit is required, did the applicant obtain one from the delegated PSD authority–in this case, Ecology?
  • Did the applicant meet all the requirements of Washington’s Air Toxics Rule (WAC 173-460)?

ORCAA’s Final Determination concluded the proposed facility meets all five criteria for approval in Washington and, therefore, may be conditionally approved. The Final Determination differs from the Preliminary Determination in some important ways, demonstrating the importance of a robust public process. Based on questions and comments from the public, PNWRE addressed additional emissions from the wet (green) hammer mills and proposed to route the units to a regenerative catalytic oxidizer (RCO), and ORCAA added stack testing requirements for specific hazardous air pollutants. ORCAA appreciates the community interest in this project.

It should be noted ORCAA may only address issues specifically related to air emissions, and many of the comments reviewed by the agency focused on other topics. Water and soil issues, wildlife impacts, and other non-air related concerns were addressed by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination prepared by the SEPA-lead agency, the City of Hoquiam.

ORCAA’s action may be appealed to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB). 


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).