DEP holds first public meeting for Jackson County waste-to-energy facility seeking air quality permit

JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections Division of Air Quality conducted a virtual public hearing Thursday to hear comments and questions regarding a waste-to-energy facility in Jackson County applying for an air quality permit.

Thunder Mountain Environmental Services LLC put in an air quality permit application with the state DEP. Thunder Mountain has proposed to construct a waste-to-energy facility located on Pleasant Road in Ravenswood.

The facility is described as one for medical waste treatment which uses a gasifier unit. The unit would utilize non-hazardous medical waste as feedstock. The facility will also include a steam
generator that will create electricity for the building.

“Thunder Mountain proposed to construct and operate a gasifier which will be fed infectious medical waste,” said Ed Andrews. “The gasifier will process the medical waste into a synthetic gas.”

Andrews is a Permit Engineer at the Air Quality division of the state DEP spoke about the permit and answered questions from the public Thursday. He said a decision will be made by the division after 30 days on whether or not to move forward with the application from Thunder Mountain.

“After the 30 day public comment period has closed, the division will review all air quality related comments with respect to the application before making a final decision,” Andrews said.

It was the first opportunity for members of the public to make comments regarding the permit application.

Of some of those who spoke Thursday included a representative from the Ohio Valley Environmental Advocates and Leatra Harper from the FreshWater Accountability Project. Heather Sprouse also spoke. She claimed that facilities like this one aren’t wanted by most people in the local communities.

“Communities already in the state as well as out of state have shown serious opposition to these types of facilities because of the toxic air emissions,” she said.

Another issue for Sprouse and a few others who provided comments was the lack of consideration for environmental justice. The believe the facility could create cumulative impacts to the environment.

Another man submitted his comments saying there isn’t enough regulatory oversight shown here.

“I don’t think there’s enough experience with these types of facilities,” he said. “Folks are going to be downstream breathing in this air.”

Andrews claimed that the the facility would be inspected and visited at least once every two years, a requirement they have with the Environmental Protection Agency.

He also said Thursday’s virtual meeting would not be the last time that members of the public could offer their input and ask questions about Thunder Mountains proposal.

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