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  Klamath biomass plant site a threat to air quality
  Proposed location would also increase Basin’s air pollution
     by PAUL FOUCH, guest writer, Herald and News 1/23/11

   Save our Rural Oregon (SORO) is a group of Klamath Falls citizens still concerned about the negative impacts resulting from the proposed location of the new biomass plant in Klamath Falls.

   The organization’s goal is to not only protect the 5,000 nearby residents from these impacts, but all of Klamath Falls. We know local politicians, industrial officials and state agencies (Oregon Department of Energy, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and probably all other agencies) are in favor of the site.

   Our plea to the public is to become educated about these negative impacts and let its voice be heard. Already hundreds of nearby residents have signed petitions to the DEQ and to local governments to not site the plant at the proposed location. Below are a few of SORO’s position statements:

   There is a general misconception of the exact location of the proposed plant site. It is not adjacent to Collins in a former sawmill site as is so often reported by the media, but 1.5 miles southwest of Collins along the Klamath River in the middle of the beautiful Klamath River Basin.  

   • This location will ruin the Klamath River Basin and Klamath’s valuable scenic rural image by changing its nature from agricultural to industrial because it will string industrial structures and massive visible pollution for over two miles in the Basin and the current zoning will allow other industries to locate there to share power and roads and it will set a precedent for industrializing   all of the Basin’s farmland.

   The plant and its operations will not have minimal impacts like the plants in Eugene and Lakeview because of its greater size (twice the size), design and location. The Lakeview and Eugene plants are located in conjunction with existing sawmills.

   This site location will drastically degrade the already bad air quality of nearby suburbs and all of Klamath Falls because of the upwind site location, the plant’s size (only a few percent under major polluter status) and the plant’s proximity to Collins. The plant’s pollution emissions will be trapped in the Basin on many inversion and stagnant air days (fumigation). Many nearby residences are located at stack height, where dispersion concentrations are the worst, and there are lenient air quality laws and the probability of inadequate pollution monitoring and controls. In addition, there will be massive trucking pollution blowing into the homes of the 500 residents along Highway 66 in the vicinity of the plant.

   This site location will undoubtedly degrade the health of nearby residents and all of Klamath Falls because of winds blowing the pollution directly on us. Klamath already has the highest percentage of lung   and heart diseases of any city in the state. And recent research by the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association has revealed that there is no safe level of fine particulate matter, 2.5 microns in width or smaller.

   Also, 2010 studies have revealed that truck pollution is the leading cause of strokes. Finally, recent studies have correlated diabetes to air pollution. Many doctors in nearby states have signed petitions against biomass there because of health reasons.

   This location will cause unbearable traffic safety problems, especially for residents who must use Highway 66 to get to town. It will make it difficult for them to access the highway during morning rush hours. Also, there is a grave safety risk to school children and school buses.  

   • Water for the plant coming from the city will increase city user rates. And discharge water going into ponds will risk contamination of farmland, the river and nearby resident’s wells.

   It is noted that all of these problems could be eliminated with the proper site location of the biomass plant.

   Note: The Oregon Department of Energy and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality have said these plants can be sited anywhere because of their “green power status.”

   In fact, the plant can be located at the Collins Industrial Area — if the sponsors would pay a mitigation fee for degrading the air quality in the Klamath non-attainment area.

   SORO will be glad to make a presentation to your group if you wish to hear more details about our positions —  mvbiomass@gmail  . com.  

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