Seneca biomass plant applies to increase pollutant cap

Seneca biomass plant applies to increase pollutant cap »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Seneca Sustainable Energy Biomass Plant in west Eugene is applying to have their pollution cap raised to the highest level.

Currently the company can produce 14 tons of Particle Matter 10 each year. "PM 10s" are tiny particulates less than a quarter the diameter of a human hair. 

If the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency approves their application, Seneca could release 17 tons of PM 10 a year - making them a "Title 5" Industry.

Lisa Arkin, the Executive Director of Beyond Toxics, said the increase would not be good for Eugene’s air quality.

"Here in Eugene-Springfield area we already have a problem with particulate matter in the air, which is kind of a sooty, dirty air,” Arkin said.

Seneca Biomass Plant’s Vice President and General Manager Richard Re said they're currently operating below their current limit.

However Merlyn Hough of the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency said the plant has had problems in the past.

"Some things have been difficult for them to meet,” Hough said.

The Seneca plant is only responsible for about 1 percent of PM 10 emissions, and they're actually coming in well under some of their emissions standards.

Arkin said the issue is really for the people who live near the plant and have to breath in the pollutants.

If the request is approved, the process to increase the pollutant cap could take several months.