Friday, November 9, 2007
Billerica power plant's environmental impact examined
The review process moved forward another step last week when Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles accepted the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Montgomery Energy project to build a 348 MW power generating facility in North Billerica. The public had roughly a month to comment on the draft document, which was submitted to the state earlier this fall. While Bowles said the draft "adequately and properly complies" with state environmental regulations, he is requiring that the Final Environmental Impact Report include additional information about the project's effects on water supply, air quality, wetlands, noise and traffic levels. He also asked for more data about the handling of hazardous materials associated with the plant operation.
Six miles away
The proposed site, about six miles from Carlisle center, is located at 134 Billerica Avenue near the Concord River, east of Route 3 and south of Route 495. It is near the borders of Chelmsford, Tewksbury and Lowell.
The plant is to supply power only during peak periods of energy usage, typically during periods of extremely hot or cold weather. The eight turbine generators are to run a combined maximum of 2,300 turbine-hours per year, and are to be fueled by natural gas, with diesel backup. The plant will occupy 14 to 16 acres of a 131-acre industrial-zoned parcel on Billerica Avenue owned by Baker Commodities Inc., a rendering company that produces fat, tallow and protein meals from animal byproducts.
The $200 million project is being developed by Montgomery Energy, LLC in cooperation with DG Clean Power, LLC. According to information on the web site: dgcleanpower.com the plant will provide Billerica $30 million in tax revenues over the next 20 years and will provide 250 jobs during construction.
Some area residents have questioned the safety of the power plant, which must meet further federal and state requirements, including those of Massachusetts' Department of Environmental Protection for noise and air pollution.
The DEIR acceptance certificate described the following environmental impacts:
· Air pollution. The plant will be considered a "non-major" source of air pollutants. Estimated maximum annual air emissions include 44 tons per year (TPY) of nitrogen oxides, 42 TPY of carbon monoxide, 41 TPY of particulate matter, 21 TPY of sulfur dioxide and 13 TPY of volatile organic compounds. It is currently estimated that the project will not exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
· Water. Up to 180,000 gallons of water per day will be needed to run the plant and cool the turbines, with the majority of the water to come from the nearby Billerica wastewater treatment plant. More details have been requested for the Final Environmental Impact Report on water usage and any possible effects on the Concord River.
· Wastewater. The project is expected to produce between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons per day of wastewater which is to be pre-treated on site and then sent to the Billerica wastewater treatment plant for further processing prior to discharge in the Concord River.
· Hazardous materials. The project includes a 500,000-gallon above-ground fuel oil tank, as well as two 24,000-gallon above-ground storage tanks for aqueous ammonia.
· Remote monitoring. The facility is designed to be operated and monitored remotely. The state has requested that the Final Environmental Impact Report include more details on security and emergency response, particularly if hazardous materials are spilled.
If there are no delays in the permitting process, construction is expected to begin next spring, with completion sometime in 2009.
© 2007 The