DEP approves Lancaster County soybean oil extraction facility

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purdue soybean site conoy township

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today issued an Air Plan Approval to Perdue AgriBusiness, LLC, for the construction and operation of a soybean oil extraction facility in Conoy Township, Lancaster County. The proposed facility will use commercial hexane solvent to extract oil from soybeans. 

“The final plan approved for this facility includes the most stringent emissions limitations for any soybean processing facility in the country,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “During our review, DEP carefully analyzed all the data using the best available science. We also considered significant public input, including two public hearings and hundreds of public comments, both for and against the project.”

Commercial hexane is a mixture of several compounds which are classified as volatile organic compounds (VOC), and are considered ozone pollution precursors. One portion of commercial hexane known as n-hexane is classified as a hazardous air pollutant.

Hexane emissions are limited to a potential maximum of 208 tons per year, making the Perdue facility subject to the Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER), the most stringent emission limitation requirement under both the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and federal Clean Air Act.

The plant will be required to operate with a solvent-to-loss ratio of 0.125 gallons per ton, which is 24% below the level proposed by the company in its original application. Each discrete hexane emission point will be required to achieve LAER emission limits, and enhanced leak detection and repair operations will be required to minimize hexane vapor leaks from equipment. In addition, the final plan approval includes enhanced monitoring requirements for the four discrete hexane emission points identified in the application. Perdue will be required to promptly report patterns of exceedances to DEP and take correction actions. All emission data will be reported to DEP semi-annually.

The two public hearings produced nearly five hours of oral testimony and 256 pages of written comments. Public comments included concern about the cumulative effects of air pollution from Perdue when combined with other nearby industrial facilities.

“The cumulative emissions in the area are not expected to be a problem given the current attainment status of the area, the small percentage of local emissions that will be contributed by Perdue, and the results of DEP’s hexane risk assessment,” said Robert Conrad, acting director for DEP’s South-central Regional Office. Lancaster and York counties are presently monitoring attainment with federal air quality standards.

Today, DEP also issued to Perdue AgriBusiness, LLC, a Storage Tank Site-Specific Installation Permit, allowing two above-ground storage tanks at the proposed facility.

The plan approval, permit application, and other materials related to this facility will be available here later today.

SOURCE: PA Dept of Environmental Protection press release

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