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EPA emission test on Eramet furnace set for next month

By Sam Shawver, sshawver@mariettatimes.com

Where you can

find EPA reports

n Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency publishes a county-by-county weekly review of public notices at epa.state.oh.us

n Air quality information is available at epa.state.oh.us/dapc/

n For more information, contact OEPA at (614) 644-3020.

Eramet Marietta will have a chance next month to prove the company’s No. 1 furnace is in good working order.

The equipment was found to be out of compliance in November during a particulate emission test by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The test, performed on Nov. 8, showed a total emissions rate from the furnace of 36.4 pounds per hour, above the 27.2 pounds per hour rate allowed by Ohio EPA for a furnace operating under a load of 25 megawatts or less.

“The test was done in November of 2006, and we received the report in late December. We had a lot of discussions with company officials who believed the readings were off because of some problems they had encountered with that furnace,” said Bruce Weinberg, air division manager at Ohio EPA’s Southeast District office in Logan.

He said the troubles were not related to two burn-throughs that occurred in furnace No. 1 last month.

“We had to schedule tests of three furnaces 30 days ahead of the actual test date, and in the meantime we had some operational problems (with furnace No. 1),” said Jeff McKinney, manager of safety, health and environmental affairs with Eramet Marietta.

He said the problems involved water leakage in the furnace due to some rings and seals that needed to be replaced.

“For safety, we were required to reduce the furnace power supply below 25 megawatts in order to conduct the test,” McKinney explained. “And in reducing the power load we were subject to the lower emission rating of 27.2 pounds per hour.”

McKinney and Weinberg agree the furnace was operating near the 25-megawatt threshold, at which the state EPA’s allowable emission standard is increased. Under that classification, the furnace emissions would have been within tolerance.

“We were operating in the 24 to 25 megawatt range, so they had no choice, but we weren’t exceeding our traditional limits,” McKinney said. “We came back into compliance within two days and were able to continue operating at the normal higher load range, around 28 megawatts.”

The company and Ohio EPA had discussions about the test, but the agency sent Eramet a letter on April 5 that the furnace had been operating in violation of emissions standards during the test.

“They tried to convince us that the test was not valid, but after some discussions, we concluded that the furnace should be considered out of compliance,” Weinberg said.

“They have repaired the furnace seals and rings, but we need to document that they are in compliance. The furnace will be considered out of compliance until then,” he said. “A re-test is scheduled in May, with the furnace operating at 25 megawatts and below and at 25 megawatts and above.”

Weinberg said the emission rate of nine pounds per hour above the Ohio EPA standard was not considered to be a large amount, and would have been within tolerance if the furnace test had been done with an operating load of 25 megawatts or more. But he said Eramet still could be penalized for exceeding the allowable emission rate.

“Our next step is to prepare a referral to our central office enforcement coordinator in Columbus,” Weinberg said. “They will sit down and determine whether a penalty needs to be issued for the violation.”

He added there was no way to tell if the additional release of silicomanganese particulates would have any hazardous effect on humans at this time, because studies pertaining to the chemical’s effect on the human population are incomplete.

An air quality study by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has been under way since 2001 in areas neighboring the Eramet facility.

Last September, agency investigators announced the study was being expanded with the installation of three additional air quality monitors in Harmar Village and across the Ohio River in Boaz and Vienna, W.Va. One monitor had previously been placed along Blue Knob Road near the Eramet plant.

Air samples will be taken for a year, then the agency will analyze the data and determine whether a health study is warranted.

 

 

 

 










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