South Carolina wood pellet plant accused of air pollution

RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — Environmental groups threatened to sue a wood pellet factory on Tuesday, accusing it of releasing more than 100 tons of air pollution a year in violation of the Clean Air Act.

A legal notice filed against Jasper Pellets says the plant in Ridgeland is operating equipment without a federal permit that is required because of the amount of pollutants it emits. The factory turns raw wood into compressed pellets to fuel power plants, many of them overseas.

The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, represented by The Environmental Integrity Project and the Southern Environmental Law Center, said the factory emits more than 100 tons yearly of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can produce ozone and smog when combined with sunlight.

Jasper Pellets, which announced in June 2018 that its $8.1 million investment in the factory would create 27 jobs over five years, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legal notice is meant to encourage the company to fix the violations before a lawsuit is filed. Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Heather Hillaker said the aim is not to shut the plant down, but to make sure the company abides by the law to protect the health of people living nearby.