What Is In That Smoke? / Facebook Post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

tara northern lights22 hrs  September 10, 2015  Wendy Harris

Besides the beautiful northern lights, Tara has really captured the enormous toxic ouput from Encogen.

Of all the many things emitted into the air that make me sick, Encogen ranks as No. 1. I can not pass the plant when it is emitting smoke without breaking out into a serious coughing/breathing fit. I still do not understand why Hamsters are OK allowing the city to collect income from a power plant that sends its power to California and leaves its pollution behind to cause lung damage in local residents. Green Bellingham, indeed.

I was always told that Encogen was clean and that it emitted nothing but steam. That is a complete lie. It is the largest source of air pollution in Bellingham, and in fact, is frequently confused by Canadians with BP. A google source revealed appalling propaganda. If you want to know how much pollution is being emitted and what chemicals are being discharged by Encogen, you have to review the Air Operating Permit issued by the Northwest Clean Air Agency. I will try to post this pdf file below or to a new post. [here is a link to the file: https://noisywatersnw.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/encogen-air-permit.pdf ]

Of particular concerns in the release of formaldehyde, which has varied, from 2004 and 2010, between 1000 and 200 pounds, with 400 lbs released in 2010 and 800 lbs released in 2009. Up to 50 tons (yes, tons) of nitrogen oxides have been released in prior years, as well as up to 179 tons of carbon dioxide.

Ammonia emissions have been a recent compliance problem for Encogen during the few times that the NWCAA did any testing at all, but certainly not the sole compliance problem. As an example of a notice of violation issued in 2010, the NWCAA reported the following:

“The turbine NOx continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) did not include the International Standards Organization (ISO) correction between replacement in October 2008 and September 8, 2009. When the ISO correction was included in the data analysis for that period, 33 exceedances of the NOx daily average were identified across the three turbines and the months of July, August, and September 2009 for an estimated total of 173.7 pounds excess NOx emissions.”

If you are unfamiliar with the Clean Air Act, and I assume virtually everyone is, the laxness is rather astounding. Most provisions under this act apply to only the largest, most egregious polluters. And in lieu of actual quantifiable emissions testing, NWCAA allows Encogen to engage in a visual review test. There are many other examples of compliance obligations, rather technical in nature, throughout the permit where the agency allows Encogen something tantamount to a free pass. I assume that is why the information regarding Encogen emissions stops in 2010 (but that is only a guess.)

Another looming problem, but one beyond the reach of the Clean Air Act, involves the movement of oil trains mere yards from two large diesel gas tanks (470,000 gallon) on the Encogen site used for emergency back up. The diesel gas is tested monthly at the facility per information provided by a PSE watchman who chatted with me, and about 100,00 gallons are used in testing each year. Additionally, the trains go right by the natural gas pipeline that comes from Canada and ends at the Encogen plant. This creates unreasonable danger to the downtown because Encogen is built on unstable fill in an area rated for high risk seismic activity, liquefaction, lateral spreading, erosion, and tsunamis . I know Hamsters love fireworks, but this is one show I think everyone would rather miss.

Read Wendy’s post on the Whatcom Hawk Facebook page here.

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