A big producer of wood pellets has agreed to install pollution controls at two pellet plants, in Richmond and Sampson counties.
Maryland-based Enviva reached a settlement with three environmental groups that challenged a state air quality permit issued for Enviva's plant under construction in Hamlet, about 80 miles east of Charlotte. Clean Air Carolina, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Environmental Integrity Project appealed the permit in a state administrative hearing.
“Residents of Richmond County already face some of the worst health outcomes in our state,” June Blotnick, executive eirector of Clean Air Carolina, said in a statement. “The new air pollution controls required by this settlement will decrease hazardous air pollutants.”
Enviva agreed to install equipment that will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds during pellet manufacturing.
The state Division of Air Quality also joined the agreement. Separately, Enviva reached an agreement with the Division of Air Quality to install similar equipment at its plant in Sampson County.
Enviva is the world's largest producer of industrial wood pellets, and has four plants in North Carolina. Most of the pellets are shipped to Europe, which classifies wood as renewable energy.
In a statement Wednesday, Enviva said its plants are built to "meet or exceed" air quality requirements. The company called challenges to its plants "nuisance suits" and said it agreed to settle and provide additional controls "to avoid spending our company’s time and resources on a lawsuit we believe was unfounded."