Category Archives: fires

[NEWS] Court Orders Owners of CO Biomass Facility to Pay $10 Million to Company That Built It

– by Randy Wyrick, June 5, 2017, Summit Daily

Eagle Valley Clean Energy chipsA federal court jury ruled Monday that the owners of Gypsum’s biomass plant failed to pay the company that built it.

Wellons, an Oregon company, won a $10.84 million verdict, handing biomass plant owner-operator Eagle Valley Clean Energy a defeat in a civil lawsuit that has slogged on for more than a year. The jury also left the door open for Wellons to ask for interest on that amount. Wellons attorney Steve Leatham said the company will probably seek approximately $7 million in interest.

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Ammunitions Incinerator Responds to Air Pollution Concerns

– by Annie Andersen and Emily-Erin Robinson, April 1, 2016, WSET

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Photo: WSET

The Radford Army Ammunition Plant recently received criticism from environmental protection advocate Erin Brockovich.

Brockovich said they plant’s open burn policy is harmful to the environment.

Brockovich complains that when the plant burns hazardous waste, an orange cloud drifts all the way over Virginia Tech and Blacksburg. The EPA ranks the Christiansburg metro area, which includes the plant, at 37th worst, out of 893 in the whole country, when it comes to the amount of toxins released.

In 2014, the EPA says that the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant released 9,292,749 chemical pounds of waste.

Brockovich posts: “This is one of the most dangerous and toxic facilities in the Nation according to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory and RSEI data. There is a high level of Thyroid Cancer Incidence in the Region.”

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U.S. Senator Wyden (D-OR) Pushes for Boost in Biomass Energy

– March 28, 2016, Renewable Energy World

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Photo: Infojustice.org

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is pressing for increased production of sustainable, low-carbon biomass energy to heat and power homes and businesses, while reducing the risk of wildfires and creating jobs in rural areas, according to the senator’s office.

In recent letters to U.S. Senate appropriators, Wyden highlighted the important role of biomass programs at the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Energy in helping create innovative technologies for low-carbon biomass energy.

In addition to its potential to provide low-carbon energy to heat homes and businesses, sustainable production of biomass energy uses the dead trees, underbrush, and other woody material that overcrowd forests and worsen the risks of wildfires. As a result, biomass energy production helps restore healthier and more resilient forests in Oregon and across the country.

“Sustainably produced biomass energy helps restore our forests — reducing the risk of wildfires and creating jobs in the woods,” Wyden said in a March 25 statement. “Using woody material that otherwise would be burned up or put in landfills generates low-carbon fuel and buoys rural communities.” Read more

Fire Sparks Concern Over Tennessee Biofuel Refinery

– by Jeni Diprizio, March 18, 2016, Local Memphis

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Photo: Commercialappeal.com

This isn’t the first time Memphis firefighters have been called to the Agrileum plant.

Neighbors say there was a small fire there just a few weeks ago. And in 2014, the facility was under state and county investigation.

Senior investigator Jeni Diprizio was at the plant after a chemical spill. Neighbors have been concerned about the facility for quite some time.

“When it first blew up, we were sitting right here,” recalled Andrew Blanton.

Residents who live near the biofuel plant say it’s been a concern for decades.

“It shouldn’t be here. It should be on Presidents Island or something,” said Ricky Blanton.

They say they are worried about fires and chemical spills.

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Proposed Arkansas Ethanol Facility Causing a Stir

– by Marielle Mohs, March 2, 2016, KTHV

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Photo: KTHV

A town hall meeting got pretty heated on Wednesday night in Maumelle.

Many angry citizens voiced their concerns about a proposed ethanol storage facility that would store 4.2 million gallons of ethanol and cost about $12 million. It would take about nine months to complete.

“When the high school and middle school went into the industrial park, I never thought it was a great idea to have them that close to a rail spur,” said Preston Lewis, Maumelle Alderman, who’s against the proposed project.

Green Plains, along with Delek, drew out the plans for a proposed ethanol distribution facility.

“We only need to look down the road at Mayflower at what happened there a few years ago,” said Lewis.

Wednesday’s town hall meeting posed a lot of “what if” questions with people concerned about a disaster plan, if a fire happened at the site.

“Very hazardous material with a reputation for causing a lot of damage and explosions. I think you have a challenge, especially with the school being within such
close proximity,” said Lewis.

One of the concerns the community has about this proposed plant, is that it’s so close to Maumelle High School, approximately 1,400 feet away.

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Biomass Energy Growing Pains

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Eagle_Valley_captionSeveral biomass power facilities have come online over the last few years in Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, and Hawaii, but not without difficulties, including fires, inefficient equipment, lawsuits, and competing with the low price of natural gas.

Gypsum, Colorado

Eagle Valley Clean Energy, an 11.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Gypsum, Colorado started operating in December 2013, only to have its conveyor belt catch fire in December 2014. Spokespersons said the facility would be back online shortly, yet as of October, it’s still offline. There have been no further media reports investigating why the facility still isn’t operating, and multiple calls and emails to the facility from The Biomass Monitor were not returned.

Another thorn in Eagle Valley’s claw is a lawsuit filed against the company in U.S. District Court in June 2015 by Wellons, Inc., an Oregon-based corporation that designed and built the biomass facility.

Wellons is suing Eagle Valley Clean Energy for $11,799,864 for breach of contract, accusing the company of “fraudulent transfers” and “civil conspiracy,” involving the transferring of $18.5 million of federal subsidies to “insider” parties in an alleged effort to hide the money. The money was issued to the facility from the federal government under Section of 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus, involving payments to reimburse companies building renewable energy facilities.

Wellons claims that, on top of the nearly twelve million dollars Eagle Valley must pay them, they are owed past due interest of $1,185,433.56, with debt accruing at $3254.90 per day.

Another bump in the road for Eagle Valley involves the Chapter 11 bankcruptcy of the logging contractor that provides them the trees to fuel the facility, West Range Reclamation. West Range has provided nearly all of the wood to the facility since it opened, mostly from beetle-killed lodgepole pine from the White River National Forest.

Nacogdoches, Texas

Southern Power’s Nacogdoches Generating Facility, a 100-megawatt biomass power facility in Nacogdoches, Texas, opened in 2012 only to sit idle much of the time due to an inability to compete with the low price of natural gas, according to Reuters.

Rothschild, Wisconsin

In November 2013, WE Energies and Domtar Corp’s 50-megawatt biomass power facility opened in Rothschild, Wisconsin. However, it was offline from December 2014 through May 2015 for repairs, and was operational only 16% of the time during its first full year, in part due to an inability to compete with the low price of natural gas, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Gainesville, Florida

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC), a 100-megawatt biomass power facility, came online in Gainesville, Florida in 2013, and soon ran into controversy with noise complaints from neighbors.

In October 2014, the Gainesville City Commission approved an audit to look into financial transactions between Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) and GREC, which increased costs for the utility and its customers.

In April 2015, Wood Resource Recovery, one of the main fuel suppliers for GREC, sued the facility for breach of contract for $5 million in damages. Part of the complaint has to do with GREC’s refusal to take yard waste and materials from agriculturally zoned properties.

In August, the facility shut down temporarily, and when it became operational again, Gainesville Regional Utilities decided not to bring it back online, with no “projected return to service at this current time,” according to Margaret Crawford, GRU Communications Director. Instead, GRU is relying on power that is “more economic than GREC’s facility.”

In September, the city audit report uncovered that Gainesville Regional Utilities was paying $56,826 more per month than it was supposed to, totaling $900,000 in over-payments.

Koloa, Hawaii

Green Energy Team’s 7.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Koloa, Hawaii, was scheduled to start up in April 2015, but the official opening has been pushed back to November because the efficiency level from burning wood chips was lower than it should be, according to The Garden Island. The turbine was dismantled and reassembled, and is currently undergoing more testing.

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