EPA Requires Air Compliance for Old Town, Maine Facility - Clears Way for Possible Ethanol Production
EPA is taking enforcement action through an administrative order that will require Red Shield Environmental to come into compliance with federal and State air emission limits after restarting pulping operations at a former pulp and paper mill in Old Town, Maine. The order also regulates Red Shield’s efforts to extract ethanol from wood cellulose. As the facility resumes production, EPA is requiring extensive monitoring of air emissions resulting from the pulp operations.
Because the plant has been closed since March 2006, it is unclear what measures and types of control equipment will be necessary to operate in compliance with air emission limits. If necessary, Red Shield will install state of the art pollution control equipment. EPA and the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) will provide robust oversight to ensure that public health and environmental quality are not jeopardized while the plant proceeds with emission testing and installing any necessary controls.
Red Shield is planning to produce pulp (but not paper) at the Old Town mill. Additionally, Red Shield will be installing a new organic chemical manufacturing process to produce acetic acid and ethanol from wood cellulose, a priority of the President’s 2007 Energy Plan. Restarting the Old Town mill could create 400 jobs in an economically depressed part of the state.
Maine’s government actively supports innovative technologies to produce an alternative fuel source – ethanol. In 2006, the University of Maine received a $6 million grant from National Science Foundation to explore methods of extracting ethanol from wood cellulose. Red Shield will be installing an experimental ethanol production process developed with assistance from the University of Maine using material from the pulping process. This innovative technology is projected to reduce air emissions of methanol and “total reduced sulfur” at the mill and it is possible that the facility will be able to comply with federal and state air quality requirements without additional controls.
EPA’s administrative order requires Red Shield to reach compliance with air emission requirements within 12 months at the latest, and to use best practices to minimize emissions during the interim period. After 12 months EPA will evaluate whether penalties or other actions are appropriate to address noncompliance and any excess emissions.
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