Wood pellets air pollution
Image by samuel from Pixabay

Wood pellet mills’ air pollution violations in South Georgia raise concerns

Meris Lutz writes in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a south Georgia wood pellet mill that was recently fined nearly $52,000 for a series of state environmental violations, including bypassing its air pollution controls. Advocates say the fine is a paltry sum in the booming biomass industry.

In a nutshell:

Although considered a significant penalty by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, critics argue that the fine falls short of addressing the larger issue. The mill, part of a thriving biomass industry, produces pellets for export to Europe, where they are promoted as a renewable energy source, despite concerns from climate scientists about carbon emissions. Advocates emphasize the need for stricter enforcement and point to a Civil Rights complaint filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, challenging the disproportionate pollution impact on marginalized communities.

Key quote:

“What gives me pause is the way that Georgia EPD currently monitors these plants,” Treva Gear, a community organizer and Georgia state manager for the Dogwood Alliance said. Some mills, she added, have been allowed to repeat violations “over and over again, without any real repercussions.”

The big picture:

Living near a wood pellet mill can lead to negative health outcomes in local communities. These impacts are primarily attributed to the release of harmful air pollutants during the production process. Fine particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and other emissions from the mill can lead to respiratory issues, such as asthma exacerbation and lung inflammation. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked to cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and an increased risk of premature death.

Read the article at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cameron Oglesby reported in 2021 about the Paris climate agreement - and how it overlooks one contentious "carbon neutral" energy source: wood pellets.

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