On June 3, Grant County Judge Robert VanDeHey signed off on an agreement between the State of Wisconsin and DTE Stoneman, the biomass power plant in Cassville, to resolve three years of violations the plant tallied as it switched over from a coal-fired operation, exceeding emission limits, allowing fires to break out at its storage facilities, and failing to timely report issues that occured as the plant started up.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that DTE Stoneman, LLC would pay $150,000 in forfeitures, court costs, and surcharges for violations of its Wisconsin air pollution control permit at its Cassville biomass power plant.
According to the complaint, DTE Stoneman submitted monitoring reports to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicating that from November 13, 2010, to June 30, 2012, DTE Stoneman exceeded its visible emission limitations on multiple days in violation of its air pollution control permit. Furthermore, DTE Stoneman failed to control particulate matter emissions and failed to report to DNR malfunctions and unscheduled events that may have caused emission limitations to be exceeded from June 17, 2010, to December 17, 2010, in violation of its air pollution control permit.
Additionally, DTE Stoneman failed to construct its biomass power plant in accordance with its permit application, as approved by DNR, and it failed to operate a particulate matter pollution control device during plant start-ups between August 30, 2010, and January 5, 2011, in violation of its air pollution control permit. On multiple occasions between June 17, 2010, and April 4, 2011, fires occurred at DTE Stoneman's biomass storage piles in violation of the state's open burning laws.
Particulate matter is strongly linked to human health concerns. Small particles, which make up particulate matter, can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects. Furthermore, particulate matter can travel by wind and settle on water or neighboring properties, causing environmental and aesthetic damage. A company that has the potential to emit large quantities of particulate matter is required to obtain an air pollution control permit from DNR and minimize particulate matter emissions by using control equipment, preventative maintenance, and abatement plans to reduce accidental releases. All Wisconsin citizens have the right to clean air and a healthy environment.
DTE Stoneman has cooperated with DNR to ensure future compliance with its air pollution control permit. In response to the violations specified in the complaint, DTE Stoneman has made operational changes and mechanical enhancements to improve its fugitive dust control program and it has upgraded its particulate matter emission controls.
For more information about this story, look to this week's Grant County Herald Independent.