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Cleaner air: colonization sets new limits and improves monitoring of the biogas plant

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News | September 30, 2021

North Carolina’s first plant that turns pork waste into energy has applied for permits to burn or flare gas generated on-site. Our settled lawsuit has led to more stringent restrictions on this process.

Eastern North Carolina will benefit from new operating limits and better tracking thanks to a settlement agreement announced this week. The updated monitoring requirements and emission limits will provide greater transparency and protections against air pollution from a gas processing plant, which will collect and process biogas from industrial hog farms in the counties of Duplin and Sampson.

The agreement, between CleanAIRE NC, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and Align RNG, will resolve a legal challenge to an air pollution permit for a biogas processing plant in County of Sampson. The plant would be operated by Align, a joint venture of pork producer Smithfield Foods and utility Dominion Energy.

“This agreement helps protect families in eastern North Carolina with new operating restrictions on the state’s first full-scale biogas processing plant to limit pollution and establish requirements to inspect and fix methane leaks on pig farms, ”SELC lawyer Blakely Hildebrand said. “However, today’s deal does not address the serious threat to our air, water and communities when pork waste is dumped in open cesspools and sprayed into the environment. Smithfield is using cleaner treatment systems in other states to tackle pork waste pollution, and communities in North Carolina deserve better.

The deal is for a biogas plant project in Turkey, North Carolina, which is located on the border of Duplin and Sampson counties. Smithfield and Dominion announced that this plant will connect to 19 hog farms that would collect methane and other gases from large amounts of pig feces and urine, known as biogas, for processing and use as a source. of energy.

The agreement includes new restrictions on the plant’s operations to limit its emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The agreement also strengthens accountability for Align’s operations through more frequent and accurate monitoring of the plant’s air emissions. It also improves transparency through new reporting of this information, allowing local communities to verify and enforce plant compliance with state law and the Clean Air Act. In addition, the agreement requires regular inspections and repairs of methane leaks at hog farms supplying biogas to the plant.

“Methane is an extremely powerful heat-trapping gas generated by Smithfield’s hog waste ponds, and stopping methane leaks from industrial hog operations is critical,” said Joel Porter, Policy Manager at CleanAIRE NC. “This agreement does this while providing better protection against other harmful air pollutants and gives residents living near the gas plant access to increased emissions reporting.”


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