Biochar Products is required to obtain permits before we can operate. This page will document those permits and the current status of those permit applications.
Oregon State Land Use Planning Conditional Use Permit
The Biochar Products plant will be located on an old lumber mill site part of each year. The site is zoned Industrial in that zoning Biochar Products is required to get a conditional use permit. The reason Biochar Products is required to request a conditional use permit is according to Article 3 section 314.02 subsection 314.03 of Oregon Land Use Planning Law
B: Any process, storage or manufacturing which emits odors, fumes, gasses or treated liquids.
The process of making biochar in the unit that we plan to purchase emits a small amount of fumes that will be permitted under a DEQ air quality permit. These fumes are very minimal. Under most conditions the fumes are not visible although in some cold conditions they may cause some minor condensation that will look like smoke. These fumes under most conditions will produce no detectable odor although if there is odor at all it smells like wood smoke which is already common in the valley due to wood burning is stoves and agricultural burning.
The biochar plant produced by Advanced Biorefinery Incorporated has scrubbers and utilizes syngas produced by the char process to run the plant therefore almost all of the fumes produced are burned or scrubbed basically to minimize issues with DEQ. Secondly long term this plant will only be on this site a potion of the year. It is a portable plant and will be moved up into the forest 6 to 8 months each year.
This permit was granted by the Baker County Planning Commission pending appeal.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Air Permit
The fumes emitted by the plant require permit from the DEQ based on the fact that the plant will produce air pollutants. Some kinds of processes that emit air pollution are well understood and these have standard permits based on past experience, the biochar process is a new one that is not well understood by DEQ so we have been working together to define the outputs and the issues around the permit requirements.
It currently appears that BioChar Products will obtain two permits at this time. The first will be for the initial work that we will be doing with the Rocky Mt. Research Station on the 1 DTPD plant located in Halfway and on the Umpqua National Forest. The second permit would be for the full production 10 DTPD or larger plant that will be the long term production plant for BioChar Products.
This process has required several communications with the DEQ Air Permit people to come to a mutual understanding of what the process of producing biochar entails. Currently there is a pretty good understanding of what each needs and the process is now moving forward.
BioChar Products will submit what is called a "Intent to Construct" form for the 1 DTPD on both the Halfway and Umpqua sites. The plant pollutant details will be submitted on forms for the "Biochar Process Dryer" on the "Wood Dry Kiln" standard form. The second set of pollutant details for the "Biochar Reactor Chamber" on the "Cement Plant" standard form. Finally on the Umpqua site processing will also require a 20KW generator and there will be a form submitted, a generator standard form for that site.
This plant permit will be specifically for a short term demonstration plant situation and will be part of how we go forward with permitting the next plant for BioChar Products and other future mobile biochar plants.
These are the current understandings of how we will proceed on the preparation for the demonstration but since the situation is still fluid it may even change for the 1 DTPD plant. These may not and probably will not be the methods that will be used to finally permit the 10 DTPD after our shared experience with the demonstration plant.
The application for DEQ Air Permit is in progress for the 1 DTPD plant.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Solid Waste Permit
There is also a requirement for a DEQ Solid Waste permit. This is for two reasons. One being that since BioChar Products will stockpile feed stocks for processing during the winter that could be left on site if not processed long term that could pollute water. Second biochar production is considered a waste processing industry which also needs to be permitted.
This effort has been simpler than the air permit since the elements are fairly well understood. Solid waste permitting will proceed in a relatively simple manor. BioChar Products will be issued two 6 months permits to run a solid waste processing site for 6 months. These can not be renewed after these two 6 month permits. These permits will provide the evaluation of the process in preparation for a final permit being issued for BioChar Products long term operation. In fact it may be that the air and solid waste permits for BioChar Products will be combined.
The final outcome of this process, if it looks likely that there will be many biochar plants in Oregon, the DEQ may develop a standard permit to be issued for BioChar Plants like they currently have for some other common industrial processes.
The DEQ Solid Waste permit will be applied for a few days before start-up of the 1 DTPD unit.