BELPRE - The natural gas boilers being planned for Kraton Polymers in Belpre are designed to reduce some emissions from the plant's coal-fired boilers, but will increase other types of emissions, officials said at a public hearing Wednesday.
A public hearing was held at the Belpre Public Library for the Ohio EPA to accept comments regarding a draft air permit for Kraton to replace two coal-fired boilers with two new boilers, which would run on natural gas, and distillate oil and naphtha, a flammable liquid mixture of hydrocarbons that is used as a solvent for chemical industries.
Representatives of the Ohio EPA, Kraton and one local resident attended the hearing.
"This project is about the installation of two new boilers that Kraton uses in their processes," said Craig Ferguson of the Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control.
The draft air permit establishes emission limits to protect public health and the environment.
The new 249 million BTU/hour boilers are expected to reduce net emissions of nitrogen oxide (-291.67 tons a year), sulfur dioxide (-3,258.32 tons a year because they won't be burning coal), particulate emissions (-109.32 tons a year) and various particulate matter (-49.36 tons a year).
"The fact these burners are low (nitrogen oxide) burners is a good thing for the environment," Ferguson said. "They are also capable of doing flue gas recirculation which is a way of controlling the little bit of (nitrogen oxide) emitted in these processes and that is done with additional incineration or additional combustion."
Higher net emissions are expected for carbon monoxide (132.91 tons a year), volatile organic carbon (9.58 tons a year) and carbon dioxide equivalents (42,968.84 tons a year) once the new boilers go online, Ferguson said.
In terms of environmental protection, permits are issued with the intent of limiting the amount of pollution emitted into the atmosphere and the environment.
Ferguson said computer modeling for this project indicates the emissions are not expected in concentrations above the significant impact level for carbon monoxide.
"This project is also not expected to exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards," he said.
Once the permit is implemented and the project is being done, there will be continuous emissions monitoring for nitrogen oxide as well as performance tests for nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate emissions, Ferguson said.
Prior to Wednesday's hearing, Ohio EPA had not received any comments from the U.S. EPA or from the public on this permit, which is slated to go to the next step with ease, he said. The next step involves all the comments being reviewed and responded to and the Ohio EPA director decides whether the permit is denied, issued with changes or issued with no changes.
Belpre resident Samuel E. Moore said he has lived in the area for 73 years. He has lived near the plant since it came to the area and has seen a variety of problems over the years from disasters to strange smells and airborne particles, he said.
"The air was a lot better and the fish were a lot better before all these plants moved in," Moore said. "It is what it is. It has been like this for years."
Moore said clothes on his outside line continue to be darkened by materials in the air.
Ferguson told Moore the Ohio EPA has avenues for citizens to report items of concern.
"It is important facilities are compliant with their permits," Ferguson told him. "The permits are written to be protective of the environment and the public health. We desire to be vigilant."
Moore acknowledged the plants have provided the area with many good-paying jobs, but he wishes more could be done to improve the air quality and people's health, he said.
Officials at Kraton did not make statements at the hearing regarding the project.
Ohio EPA will accept written comments up to the close of business on Friday. Interested parties can send comments to Chad Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
gov or mailed to Ohio EPA Southeast District Office, 2195 Front St., Logan, Ohio 43138.