Air quality task force will continue work

Author: Vicky Newman-News-Herald

The Loudon County Air Quality Task Force is renewing its mission to promote clean air and provide information about air pollution issues to local governments. The task force met last week and elected Lewis "Charlie Brown" Garner, a former Loudon City Council member, to serve as chairman.

Garner accepted the post after longtime chairman Mike Crosby stepped down because of illness. Crosby, attending his first meeting in several months, said he will continue serving on the board and will assist Garner if needed.

Bryan Crawford, Kimberly-Clark engineer and task force representative, was elected vice chairman.
Industrial oversight concerning plant emissions is a function of the task force. An industrial representative has traditionally held a top position as chairman or vice chairman, Crosby said.
Longtime task force representative Mike Slimbarski reported to the group he had received a voice mail message concerning Viskase from Barry Stephens, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Air Pollution Control Division director. Stephens reported that the board is continuing to work on that with the company, looking at actual emissions in comparison to allowable emissions.

Task force member Bud Guider reported on his attendance at two Loudon City Council meetings this month, where he expressed concerns that industrial prospects are not investigated for potential emissions of air pollutants before they are approved to locate here. He said he plans to visit Loudon County Commission next week.

"I went to the city of Loudon as an individual rather than a task force representative to learn what they know of the potential impact of Ceramica Del Conca," Guider said. "They knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. It had not been discussed. It had never come up. That was my deduction."

Guider said the industrial recruitment process should involve the task force from the outset.

"The approach we have now is a day late and a dollar short … the process should be that when there's a potential industry they should invite us to be a part of the process," Guider said.

Don Miller and David Meers, county commissioners and task force members, suggested a workshop discussion with government agencies asking for the LCAQTF to be a part of the economic development recruitment process. Miller said he would be willing to talk to the commission as a member of the Economic Development Agency board.

LCAQTF is an advisory board created by the Loudon County Commission, and the cities of Loudon and Lenoir City.

Gerry Schleuter, Tate & Lyle plant manager, reported to the task force that his company has asked for a permit modification after finding SO2, or sulfur dioxide, in its scrubber that exceeded allowable emissions.

"The limit is 28 tons and we were running 34 tons. We asked to modify the permit, and we gave up (allowed emissions). We put in a new scrubber that was more efficient that is running 10 tons a year," he said. "We were issued a notice of violation, and we are confident we will be fined. We took care of it. We reported it, and we tested it. We have done everything we could. Now we're emitting less VOCs (volatile organic compounds). We modified the scrubber to get the numbers down. The test showed we were six tons over the limit."

Schleuter said the plant is running at 75 percent capacity at present.

"The market is not good for sweetener, and the alcohol market stinks," he said.