A local manufacturer that wants to upgrade its pollution control equipment will have to wait at least two more weeks for a decision.
The Corvallis Planning Commission continued a hearing on a request by Hollingsworth & Vose for a Willamette River Greenway conditional development permit for its glass fiber plant at 1115 SE Crystal Lake Drive.
After a request was made to hold the record open for additional testimony, Planning Commission Chair Jasmin Woodside announced that the hearing would be continued until Aug. 16.
H&V wants to replace the old wet scrubbers at its plant with new dry filtration equipment that the company says will do a better job of controlling air pollution. The company also proposes to make visual improvements to its plant, including new landscaping, screening walls, ornamental fencing and sidewalks along Crystal Lake Drive.
Some new pollution control equipment already has been installed. But because part of the project is within the Willamette River Greenway, a special land use designation aimed at protecting the river, the company needs a special permit to do the rest of the work.
The plant, which makes glass fibers for use in specialized battery separator and filtration applications, has long been a sore point for residents of the adjoining neighborhood, who worry about glass particles and other emissions from the operation.
Those concerns have intensified since December 2015, when the state Department of Environmental Quality determined that the facility had been operating under the wrong class of permit for nearly 20 years and had been emitting much higher levels of carbon monoxide and fluoride compounds than its permit allowed.
DEQ fined the company but allowed it to continue operating at existing production levels while it began the process of applying for the proper permits.
Ken Fausnacht, vice president of operations for the Massachusetts-based company, told the commissioners that the project would significantly reduce particulate and fluoride emissions while slashing water use and virtually eliminating the steam plume coming out of the plant’s smokestacks.
“We’ve come out and we’ve listened to the community and we’ve tried to address those concerns,” Fausnacht said. “Our intent — and we know we have to continue to work at that — is to be a respected and valued member of the community.”
Ten people came to the microphone to testify in support of the application, including several employees of the company. Four people spoke against the request, and two gave neutral testimony.
“We are good, hard-working people who take pride in doing our best all the time,” said H&V employee Tom Doverspike, flanked by two co-workers. “This project represents one more way this company is striving to be a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen.”
But Tony Howell, speaking in opposition, raised questions about whether it made sense to allow the company to make improvements to the site when it’s still going through a remedial permitting process with DEQ.
“I think it’s awkward to approve a new permit when they’re in violation of their old one,” he said.
The hearing will resume at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at the downtown fire station, 400 NW Harrison Blvd.
The public will have the chance to submit additional written testimony until Aug. 9, and the applicant will have seven days after that to submit its written response.
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Notes from FAN:
— This is the second incident in Oregon where an industry did not report its fluoride emissions. The first issue was Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, which emitted fluoride from its large manufacturing site since 1978 but never informed the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) nor did the DEQ consider to ask -even though software manufacturing is a major source of fluorine entering the environment. See news report in The Oregonian, Intel has been emitting fluoride for years without state knowledge, permit, Sept 13, 2013.
— See chemicals from EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory reported by Hollingsworth & Vose from 1988 to 2009.
- January 2016. Fluoride Air Dispersion Modeling Report. Hollingsworth & Vose Fiber Company, by Golder Associates Inc. A description of “the modeling methodology and input data that was used to conduct ambient air modeling of HF and F for comparison to accepted risk -based chronic exposure thresholds at nearby residential locations (i.e. at locations where long term exposure could occur).”
- 2016. Report from H&V’s facility in Georgia: Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Application. Hollingsworth & Vose Company, Hyalus, Inc. Facility. By Golder Associates Inc. “The Fluorides emission rate is a controlled emission rate based on 98% or better control of filterable fluoride particles. The facility is requesting a federally enforceable limit of 2.9 tons/year. Therefore, PSD permitting will not be applicable to Fluorides emissions (Table 2-2, page 11).”
- 2016. State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Hollingsworth & Vose Fiber Company: Air Quality Questions and Answers.