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Environmental groups send notice of intent to sue Jasper Pellets

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Three environmental groups have sent a notice of intent to sue wood pellet manufacturer Jasper Pellets for “significant, repeated, and ongoing” Clean Air Act violations.

The notice sent on 22 September accuses the company of multiple violations, including operating the facility in Ridgeland, South Carolina and installing new manufacturing equipment without proper permits. The required legal notice allows the firm to fix the violations before a lawsuit is filed.

The Environmental Integrity Project and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) are representing the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League in the action against the plant, which is located approximately 75 miles east of Charleston.

Patrick Anderson, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, said: “We warned this company two years ago that if they began operating again without a Title V permit that would be a serious violation. Unfortunately, we never heard from them, and sure enough they continue to operate illegally without the permit, forcing our hand.”

The Jasper Pellets facility turns raw wood from trees into compressed pellets and, according to the Coastal Conservation League, emits more than 100 tons of volatile organic compounds per year, making it a major source of air pollution under Title V of the Clean Air Act.

“Compliance with environmental requirements isn’t optional,” said Coastal Conservation League executive director Laura Cantral. “We’re committed to making sure that Jasper Pellets doesn’t threaten the health, safety, or quality of life of anyone living near the facility that’s now flagrantly violating the law.”

SELC attorney Heather Hillaker said the goal of the notice is not to shut down the facility, but to make sure it is following the laws for the health of the nearby community. “Pollution permits are required for a reason, and that is to make sure a facility like Jasper Pellets is following the same rules as other companies and industries, so those living nearby have a full and fair picture of what is coming out of the smokestacks,” said Hillaker.

“This is about providing neighbours with the information they are entitled to under the law.”

The Coastal Conservation League is prepared to file a lawsuit in federal court unless Jasper Pellets complies.