The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Fibrominn of Benson reached an agreement recently resolving a violation of the company’s air emissions permit.
Fueled primarily by turkey litter, Fibrominn’s electric power generating plant also includes wood and other biomass in its fuel mix. However, its air emissions permit prohibits using treated wood, such as plywood and oriented strand board (OSB). OSB flakes and plywood layers are bonded with phenol formaldehyde and other resins that make the material unsuitable for burning.
Between March 2008 and November 2011, the facility accepted and burned at least 22,428 tons of plywood and OSB, which is less than 1 percent of the total fuel burned during that time.
The facility has stopped using treated wood, has informed wood fuel suppliers about the restriction, and will pay a $14,000 civil penalty.
A stipulation agreement such as this one between the MPCA and Fibrominn is one of the tools the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the agency takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The MPCA also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.