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Californian biomass plants fined

Two biomass-fired power plants in California, US, have been fined a combined total of $835,000 (€610,165).

Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass and Merced Power received the penalty after a joint investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District found that the two facilities violated the Clean Air Act and district rules. These violations included excess emissions of air pollutants such as oxides and fine particulates.

Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass must now pay $343,000, while Merced Power is required to pay $492,000. Both firms must also follow a number of procedures in order to guarantee future compliance with the pollution regulations.

These steps will see the biomass plants install technology to better its regulation and reporting of air pollutants, enhancing automation of the control systems for nitrogen oxides emissions and preparing more stringent control plans to minimise emissions of air pollutants.

To date, both Ampersand Chowchilla and Biomass and Merced Power's move to comply with the EPA's instruction have been significant. The two facilities now have installed controls that lower the output of nitrogen oxides by 180 tonnes a year and that of carbon monoxide by as much as 365 tonnes annually.

According to the EPA, the agency and the district will monitor both plants for a further 24 months until all the requirements of both facilities have been completed.