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FOLK tells DEQ to “stop dragging its feet” on air pollution in L’Anse

PRESS RELEASE via Friends of the Land Keweenaw (FOLK)
April 25, 2016

For more info, contact Catherine Andrews, FOLK: 906 ­524­-6863 or 906­ 231­-2063

Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) asserts that the Traxys owned L’Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC), located on the shore of Lake Superior in the Village of L’Anse, is not a biomass facility as classified by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It is clearly a Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator. The facility burns a non­-homogeneous mix of wood chips, wood processing waste, chemically treated railroad ties, tire chips and natural gas.

“We are demanding that the DEQ stop dragging its feet and respond to comments we and others submitted on September 9, 2015 as part of a public comment period on LWEC’s 2015 Renewable Operating Permit.”

A public meeting scheduled for October 29, 2015 was postponed indefinitely when LWEC reported a stack test failure to DEQ. The stack test revealed a hydrogen chloride level of 5.19 pounds per hour, more than double the 2.17 pounds per hour limit.

Citizen complaints regarding massive fugitive dust releases were finally addressed when the EPA ordered DEQ to collect its own samples 5 months after videos and samples of the dust releases were sent to DEQ. The test results proved elevated levels of pentachlorophenol, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A separate snow sample taken at the BHK Child Development Center was chemically analyzed and found to contain tire particulates.

The fuel yard contains thousands of chemically treated railroad ties and non­permitted utility poles lying on bare ground. Tons of tire chips are left uncovered in a pile near the boiler.

A February 3, 2016 compliance meeting between DEQ and LWEC in Lansing is still being “negotiated” after citizens were told that there would be an agreement within a week. LWEC has been operating with at least two major unresolved violations and without an operating permit since December 30, 2015. LWEC continues to blanket the community and the Lake Superior Watershed with toxic pollution.

Many residents would like to see the facility converted back to natural gas which is a much cleaner burning fuel. However, Traxys CEO Steve Walsh, says that is not an option as he is locked into a 20 year contract with Detroit Edison to provide electricity for DTE’s renewable energy mandate. Hasn’t that contract already been broken by the many egregious violations and misdeeds at LWEC?

Contact these individuals with your concerns and complaints:
Molly Smith, EPA Region V: 312­353­8773
Ed Lancaster, DEQ: 906­250­5124
Steve Walsh, Traxys, LWEC CEO: 917­572­1956

 

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