Fifth post describing the permitting process needed to get a biochar plant sited in Oregon
Well its been a long time and I guess it is time for another update. It has been an incredibly busy summer. Lots still going on but progress is being made. Sometimes I wonder if I would have gotten into this idea if I knew all the range of stuff I was going to get into. Well hear goes.
Federal Department of Environmental Quality Waste Storage Permit
I found out I had to get a permit to store piles of logs and chips, I was also worried about what would happen if I had a spill of the bio-oil. So about 6 months ago I started that process. Well as you can imagine the DEQ people in Oregon had never heard of a biochar plant. So instead of just responding back with what was required they sent my proposal before there executive committee. (I didn't even there was an executive committee) So after 4 months of waiting to get on there agenda we finally got a reply. It turns out they were not the least bit concerned about a spill but they were worried about leaving a pile of logs or chips behind if the venture was not successful. As you can imagine there are many of these in Oregon and I guess as the wood decomposes there is some environmental damage. So they proposed a testing period where we would pay $500 each six months for the first year. During that period they would monitor our process and see how it was going. If all appears to go well we could get a future permit that would be no charge and called a recycling facility or on the other end of the spectrum have to pay $3000 for a permit and pay $.30 per ton we process. I'm not completely clear on how they would decided. But at least we now know what the costs are worst case.
Oregon Land Use Planning Conditional Use Permitt
So now that we know what to do to apply for the above DEQ permit they told me that I have to get written notification that the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) Zoning rules have been met. So I had to go into my county zoning office and find out if the actual site we are going to put the plant on which is zoned industrial permits this kind of use. Well I found out I meet all the criteria but one. If any gasses (smoke) is produced you have to apply for a conditional use permit. They tell me it will be no problem in this rural area (They are concerned about adding air pollutants mostly in cities) so even though there is a very little that escapes but there is some, I will have to apply for a conditional use permit that the planning committee will have to approve. The problem is that I will have to go before the planning committee and get there approval another couple of months work and time.
Federal Department of Environmental Quality Air Permit
I knew this requirement was coming because my partner project in Arizona was going though it. I figured I would wait till he was done and had successfully gotten his permit before I applied for mine. His is an experimental plant processing only 1/2 ton of organic matter per day. Our plant will be an operational processing 10 tons of wood per day. So I have to multiply each of the outputs times 20 but there should be not problem since they are very small. I'm just submitting the forms for this application for this permit now. It will be interesting to see if this process goes along faster.
Field Testing of Bio Char
Our work with Los Alamos is moving ahead in the last few months we have installed 3 paired plots installing approximately 10% charcoal in the top foot of the soil. These will be monitored for growth, water holding capacity and a number of other soil fertility measure. They are installed in pasture land in arid parts of New Mexico to see if there is increased growth. These same conditions have been given early testing in the green house and appear to have good results under controlled conditions. Now we will see how they work in real life on this ranch. They produced the charcoal in a pit method using local logging slash. This experimental ranch will then treat whole pastures if the paired plots are successful.
Well I see the system logged me out. I was able to capture this but lost some of my work. I'll submit this for now and see if I can get a bit more done at a later date.