2 Oregon dairy manure digesters cited for air quality violations

2021-12-23 06:24:24 By : Ms. Wendy Zhang

Two Oregon dairy manure digesters, both supported by taxpayers, have been fined a total of $38,201 for violating their air quality permits.

Digesters, which break down manure and other organic material to create energy, are regulated by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

DEQ fined WOF PNW Threemile Project in Boardman $19,500 for exceeding its limit for fine particulate matter emissions.

That happened because the facility was using more natural gas than projected to dry manure for animal bedding. 

Fine particulate matter emitted in excess of permit limits can contribute to human health problems including chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, decreased lung function and respiratory distress.

The violation began in June 2019, and continued through September 2020.

WOF PNW leases land from Threemile Canyon Farm and has a manure supply agreement with Columbia River Dairy, which supplies milk to Tillamook Creamery. 

It received an Enterprise Zone Tax Abatement which made it exempt from property taxes during construction and for its first seven years of operation. And it received $10 million in tax-exempt financing from Oregon Private Activity Bonds – tax-exempt financing for construction projects that benefit the public.  

"Drying manure is an important step in the larger digester project which Threemile Canyon Farms developed to reduce methane discharge and generate a renewable energy source," said Jennifer Maleitzke, director of communications and external affairs for R.D. Offutt Company, which owns Threemile Canyon Farms. 

"Threemile takes compliance obligations very seriously. When we were notified in August 2020, we took immediate action and completely fixed the problem by October 2020," she said. 

DEQ fined Farm Power Misty Meadow in Tillamook $18,701 for failing to operate a combustion flare, allowing air pollutants including volatile organic compounds and methane to be emitted at uncontrolled rates.

VOCs are ozone precursors that lead to the formation of smog. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The violation took place between July 3, 2019 and May 4, 2021. The company also was cited for failing to accurately report flare malfunctions to DEQ, and failing to install a warning signal connected to the flare.

Farm Power operates two digesters, and has a third under construction. In Tillamook County, its digester serves Misty Meadow dairy.

Farm Power received $1 million in cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon.

Farm Power Misty Meadow did not respond to interview requests.

The fines were among 18 DEQ levied during October and November, totaling $2.57 million.

Malarkey Roofing Company, Portland: $2,105,505, for operating without the proper air quality permit or proper controls for 10 years. DEQ had previously announced the fine, the largest in DEQ history. 

Baker County, Halfway: $7,400 for failing to perform an asbestos survey, conducting an unlicensed asbestos abatement project and illegally disposing of demolition waste.

Endura Products, Prineville: $4,500, for failing to conduct emission surveys as required by its air quality permit.

Johnny Cat, Jacksonville: $4,300 for failing to timely submit an annual report as required by its air quality permit.

HP Inc., Corvallis: $1,000, for failing to timely submit an annual report as required by its air quality permit.

Sysco Portland, Wilsonville: $48,540 for failing to conduct inspections and failing to meet other requirements of its stormwater permit.

Insurance Auto Auctions, Portland: $6,701 for failing to comply with its stormwater permit.

Valley Iron and Steel Co. (VISCO), Eugene: $20,400 for establishing and operating a solid waste disposal site for spent sandblasting grit without a permit.

Tortoise Transport Company and TNQ Developmental Employment, Klamath Falls: $91,929 for failing to make a hazardous waste determination, accepting hazardous waste for transport without a manifest, storing hazardous waste without a permit and other violations from 2018 through early 2020.

NIC Industries, White City: $63,600 for storing hazardous waste on-site for 90 days without a permit, failing to make a hazardous waste determination and other hazardous waste violations.

East Side Plating, Portland: $21,000, for failing to close hazardous waste containers, storing hazardous waste on-site for 90 days without a permit and other hazardous waste violations.

Bullseye Glass Co., Portland: $6,600 for failing to make a hazardous waste determination and other hazardous waste violations.

Da Yang Seafood, Astoria: $105,000 for discharging without a permit on 32 occasions from June 2018 through June 2021.

High Quality Roofing & Pressure Washing, Tigard: $24,000 for discharging without a permit.

Clean Water Services, Tigard: $13,200 for a sewage overflow that caused a violation of the bacteria water quality standard.

For underground storage tank violations:

Petrocard, Oakland: $9,568 for failing to repair a cracked spill bucket and violating the requirements for proper operation and maintenance of an underground storage tank

Tracy Loew is a reporter at the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at tloew@statesmanjournal.com, 503-399-6779 or on Twitter at @Tracy_Loew.