Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) was issued an environmental violation in December by state regulators for mishandling chipped wood that was being blown onto neighboring property.

“In this case, it was specific to particulate matter coming from where the conveyor dumps regular wood chips (no railroad ties) onto the wood pile,” said Sean Taylor, manager for the Stationary Source Compliance Program for the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Air Protection Branch. “The height of the conveyor was significantly higher than the height of the wood pile and wind was blowing smaller pieces onto the neighbor's property.”

GRP had not responded to a request for comment on the matter as of press time.

The EPD said the company did not follow regulations regarding “fugitive dust” or “fugitive emissions.” The agency said it has received a number of complaints about emissions from the plant since the business started in 2019.

“The causes of the reported emissions complaints have been determined to be the result of the either operational procedures, inoperable control devices or the use of improper equipment,” stated Taylor in the EPD’s Dec. 23 notice of violation to GRP.

The EPD met with GRP to discuss the issues Dec. 4. They discussed pictures and videos received from GRP neighbors.

“Since that meeting, additional fugitive emissions complaints have been reported,” wrote Taylor. “The company stated that a chute will be ordered and installed on the fuel conveyor system. The Division alleges that the company violated conditions of the permit by failing to maintain and operate the facility in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practice for minimizing fugitive emissions.”

GRP was ordered to respond to the violation notice within 30 days with a written program on how fugitive emissions will be handled, including “specific procedures for employee training, standard operating procedures, corrective actions and record keeping.” Corrective actions, such as modification of processes and equipment, and a schedule for when such actions will be taken were also required. The EPD also asked for documentation that the chute for the conveyor system has been ordered, along with an estimated time of arrival and schedule of installation.

“The information provided by the company will be reviewed by the division and used to determine if further enforcement action, including monetary penalties, is warranted,” wrote Taylor.

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