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Enka Dust Complaint--WNC Air Quality

On Saturday, September 17, David Brigman learned of the complaint through Facebook and went to Jacob Holm where he found that a malfunction had occurred in the system that transfers the waste material from the process to the storage bin outside. A large pile of the waste material was on the ground. Jacob Holm workers were busy cleaning up the debris. The material is a cellulose product from their non-woven wipes and is non-hazardous. Mr. Brigman did not see the material blowing off site, but it is assumed that occurred and that is how it was deposited on the car lot.  Mr. Brigman went by DeBruhl’s Used Cars Superstore and spoke with staff about his findings, Mr. Debruhl was not there.

On Monday, September 18, David Brigman and Ashley Featherstone went to Jacob Holm and met with Jeff Sellers, CEO, Tom Knapp, Vice President of Operations, and Donald Smolder, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager.  They explained that a malfunction had occurred on Saturday morning. There is a large cyclone on the outside of the building where waste material is conveyed by a screw system before dropping down into a dumpster for collection. The plug at the bottom of the cyclone became loose and the material blew out onto the ground and also onto a trailer that was parked near the building. The trailer, coated with the waste material, was subsequently moved to the other side of the building and it is assumed that a large amount of the waste material blew off of it and off of the pile, where it was deposited beyond the facility’s property at DeBruhl’s and other nearby locations. 

After the malfunction, the process was shut down and the plug to the cyclone was repaired or replaced. The pile of debris had been cleaned up. They were working on the system and trying to get it restarted while we were there. They have hired a company to install a tarping system around the cyclone and dumpster so that if there is a future occurrence, any associated dust will be contained. We explained that fugitive dust of this nature is not allowed to leave the property boundary per Chapter 4. 0540 of the WNCRAQA Code.

While there, we reviewed the MSDSs for the product at issue, which consists of two types of cellulosic material. This material appears to be non-hazardous. There are no binders or finishes utilized. We requested additional information about the natural gas fired dryers and the dust collection system in order to confirm that an air quality permit is still not required for this facility. We will follow up with the facility on permitting. The facility is required to comply with the fugitive dust rules regarding of permitting applicability.

We handle fugitive dust complaints on a case by case basis. In this case, we investigated and found that the dust was the result of a malfunction. The facility is working to address the problem in a timely manner. They are taking steps to enclose the process and improve upon it in order to prevent future occurrences. As such, we are not planning to issue a penalty at this time. 

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