By Genine Hopkins
A meeting on the DCP application for a new gas processing facility in Hamilton Township drew ire from citizens concerned about potential issues. The meeting, held on July 29th and conducted by the township with officials from the DEQ, concerned air quality issues only, the first in a longer process for the Colorado based company to receive approval. Local news affiliate 9 & 10 was on hand to cover the event, and Clare County Sheriff John Wilson was on hand to insure conduct remained reserved.
If the plant is constructed, it would receive gas through already existing pipelines, process that gas by removing impurities through several processes and then store some of the impurities in an onsite tank while releasing others at approved levels.
Although it was previously reported that Hamilton Township’s Supervisor Dale Cooper had called to request the DEQ to hold the meeting in the township, a meeting was also requested by several citizens. The final meeting was held in Lansing on July 31, 2013.
DCP representatives were also on hand to answer questions, although it appeared that company was fairly confident that the proposed plant would meet the approval of the township; one representative stated that before they moved forward on any application for a new plant, a review of local ordinances to insure the plant met the requirements was conducted. Hamilton Township will soon be updating their ordinances and Special Use Permit (SUP) variances to coordinate with their overall Master Plan.
Representatives from the DEQ were concerned only with the potential of the plant designs and protocols and that effect on the air quality. Although they cannot test the actual plant itself, which has not been constructed, they examine similar plants and the mechanics of the air quality per engineering designs and current capabilities. Analyzing emissions calculations submitted by the manufacturer of the components of the plant would seek to see if they meet federal and state guidelines. A computer emissions model will also be examined.
The plant would have 10 engines – six for compression and four that are part of the cryogenic filtration systems. The plant would also include three turbines to generate electricity, four heaters to maintain temperature during colder months, and two small emergency flares for venting if necessary. The number of storage tanks – 12 – would hold the water and other residual moisture in the gas pipeline stream that is processed.
One of the concerns brought up by citizens was the affect the emissions would have on any ability to grow organically, from plants to meats, as well as the ability of the DEQ to effectively address any citizen complaints.
“What about these emissions? I have family members with health issues that require us to grow our own organic foods, yet the potential for the emissions, even at a small level, to compromise that goal seems to be compromised,” said Diane Leetz.
Emerson Joseph Addison, one of the citizens requesting a hearing, asked the DEQ how they could effectively address any air quality complaints that occur during off hours.
“Your office is located in Saginaw. Travel time alone might impede investigating any complaints, especially if they occur during the night or on weekends. How can you guarantee a proper investigation?”
Residents were also concerned with the plans for monitoring the plant with scheduled inspections and self monitoring DCP would complete on a daily basis.
“How do you ask for compliance when they self monitor?” asked Addison, “How do we know the reporting will be fair and accurate, especially if there are schedule audits?”
The DEQ stated they do surprise inspections as well.
Addison also asked how the DEQ insured any emergencies were handled effectively.
“We don’t even have a fire department if there are any issues. How would any evacuations be conducted?”
The DEQ responded that the County’s Emergency Manager and the local township officials would have to work that through.
Many citizens brought information on recent gas plant troubles with them, but unfortunately the DEQ was only to hear questions on the air quality. Those concerns will have to wait for another day.