Air permit issued for Enviva – Northampton

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) has issued an air permit for the Enviva Pellets Northampton facility located in Northampton County, which adds pollution control equipment to reduce emissions. The final permit also includes added requirements to address concerns raised by the community during the public process.

DAQ staff thoroughly reviewed the comments received on the draft permit during the public hearing and comment period. The final permit was revised to include additional initial and periodic testing requirements to ensure compliance with permitted limits as production increases.

“On behalf of the entire company, I would like to send a sincere thank you to the North Carolina Division of Air Quality’s leadership as well as to the entire state of North Carolina for their support of Enviva,” stated John Keppler, the President and CEO of the company.

The permit includes a production increase to 781,255 total oven dried tons (ODT) per year, a softwood input increase to 80% and requires the reporting of monthly ODT levels and hardwood/softwood mixes. The required controls include two regenerative thermal oxidizers (RTOs) to control Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions from new and existing dryers and green wood hammermills, as well as the installation of two regenerative catalytic oxidizers (RCOs) to control VOC and HAP emissions from the dry hammermills and pellet cooler system.

“As we grow to meet the increasing global demand for sustainable biomass fuel, we will continue to make substantial investments in environmental control technology, reflecting our continued strong commitment to having a positive impact on the environment and our local communities. The issuance of the permit is a great example of that. The approval of our voluntary air quality control measures will ensure the company continues to comply with all regulations while improving the efficiency of the facility,” Keppler added.

Once controls are installed, the facility will limit emissions of each criteria pollutant to less than 250 tons per year.

In response to public concern, the final permit includes a site-specific scaled NOx emission factor instead of a lower emission factor submitted by Enviva. The NOx emissions equation will verify that NOx emissions remain below 250 tons per year. The permit also revises the start-up, bypass, and malfunction conditions to be consistent with Enviva Sampson permit and will remove the malfunction duration allowance.

“Enviva will continue to be a good neighbor in the Northampton community by having a positive impact on our environment and working to ensure healthy, well-managed forests continue to grow and thrive. We are proud to be part of an all-in renewable energy solution for people around the world using the tremendous resources grown locally in North Carolina,” Keppler stated.

The permit, as noted within its documents, is good through Feb. 25, 2025. It does demand that Nucor-Northampton complete the installation of its new pollution control devices within a 24-month period from the issuance of the permit. It also requires Nucor-Northampton to maintain on-site records required by the conditions of the permit and make those records available to DAQ personnel for inspection upon request.

Enviva spokesperson Chris Brown told the R-C News-Herald that work will begin immediately on the projects outlined in the permit, with a goal of having the construction completed by the first quarter of 2020.

Enviva has invested over $100 million at its Northampton plant, and in addition spends approximately $70 million in operating expenses per year. In addition, the plant contributes over $150 million annually in regional economic impact; supports nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs; and its average hourly wage is more than double the per capita county income.

The final permit, final permit review, hearing officer’s report, and environmental justice impact statement are available on the department’s webpage at https://deq.nc.gov/EnvivaNorthampton.