Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
By William Kincaid
EPA will permit area ethanol plant
  The Ohio EPA has issued Mercer Energy the necessary permits for the construction and operation of an ethanol plant to be built between Celina and St. Marys.
On Tuesday, the Ohio EPA signed off on an air pollution control permit and a wastewater permit, which will allow the company to start the project.
"An air pollution control permit-to-install will allow construction of the plant to begin," Dina Pierce of the Ohio EPA wrote in a press release. "Construction must begin within 18 months of the permit to remain valid. Once the plant is operating, the permit limits the amount of contaminants that can be emitted to maintain national air quality standards."
The wastewater permit will allow up to 884,000 gallons of wastewater to be discharged into Grand Lake each day, Pierce said.
All discharged water will be cleaner than the water already in the lake, Mercer Energy officials have said in response to some local residents' concerns about dumping waste into the lake. The 300-million gallons discharged annually represents less than 1 percent of the lake's total volume, they also said.
"The small amount of water that is released into Grand Lake St. Marys will be treated until it is as clean as well water," Mercer Energy stated in a press release issued Tuesday.
The two EPA permits can be appealed to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC), an independent judicial entity. Pierce told the newspaper that appeals can only challenge the EPA's decision based on Ohio law.
According to Mercer Energy, construction is tentatively scheduled to begin next year and will take approximately 18 months to complete. No company officials were available to provide more details this morning.
Mercer Energy, comprised of a group of area farmers and businessmen, plans a $125 million hydro-milling ethanol facility that would employ about 50 workers. The plant would produce 50 million gallons of ethanol and 164,000 tons of feed and feed products annually at the facility to be built at 7064 Four Turkey Road, near state Route 29.
The EPA permits say the plant can produce up to 60 million gallons per year of fuel-grade ethanol from corn.
When asked if the plant needs any other permits, Pierce was unsure whether the company's construction stormwater general permit - a standard permit required for constructing a building on an acre or more of land - has been processed yet. But she said such a permit is usually authorized within a couple weeks.
Appeals of the air pollution and wastewater permits must be filed within 30 days of the issuance. Ohio EPA recommends anyone wishing to file an appeal contact ERAC at 614-466-8950.
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