Bioethanol Forum to be Held Monday — All Are Invited

By Mike Lednovich

Plans for a bioethanol plant to be located at the Rayonier Performance Fibers (RYAM) facility on Gum Street will be discussed Monday at a forum organized by Sierra Club, Conserve Nassau, Stop the Domino Effect and a coalition of community residents.

The meeting at 6 p.m. will be held at Sadler Ranch, next to The Loop Restaurant.

Last Wednesday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) informed RYAM that it intends to issue an air quality permit that would allow the construction of a bioethanol production facility on the grounds of the company’s Fernandina Beach plant.

The FDEP letter said, “The applicant has provided reasonable assurance that operation of proposed equipment will not adversely impact air quality and that the project will comply with all applicable provisions of … the Florida Administrative Code.”

Once in production, the RYAM bioethanol plant would produce 7.5 million gallons of fuel per year. The project also includes construction of several storage tanks at the facility.

“Are you aware of the generation 2 bioethanol plant RYAM is planning to build? Are you concerned about it? This project is currently going through the permitting process with FDEP, and we have 14 days to respond,” the groups stated in their social media posts announcing the Monday event.

Medardo Monzon, a chemical engineer, who has expressed concerns about the bioethanol plant, will be at the forum to answer questions.

“There has been a lot of misinformation about this proposal and our goal is to educate Fernandina residents about bioethanol production and its potential impact on our community,” Monzon said.

Jack Imber, a citizens activist and expert on catastrophic blast events, will also be at the meeting.

Organizers note that among the misconceptions regarding approval of the bioethanol plant is that the proposal will be voted on by the Fernandina Beach City Commission. City Attorney Tammi Bach has stated at meetings that the city commission plays no role in the approval process.

However, Fernandina Beach’s Comprehensive Plan states that it prohibits chemical production in Section 1.07.012 g which states, “Heavy metal fabrication, batch plants, salvage yards, chemical or petroleum manufacturing or refining, rubber or plastics manufacturing or other uses generating potentially harmful environmental or nuisance impacts shall be prohibited.”

Bach has engaged an outside law firm for an opinion on the issue. The opinion is expected in several weeks.

In its notice, FDEP said the public has two avenues to address issuing of the air permit.

First is by written comment.

Once a notice is published, FDEP said, “The Permitting Authority will accept written comments concerning the draft permit for a period of 14 days from the date of publication of the Public Notice. Written comments must be received by the Permitting Authority by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on or before the end of the 14-day period to the above address and electronically to David Read at [email protected]. If written comments received result in a significant change to the draft permit, the Permitting Authority shall revise the draft permit and require, if applicable, another Public Notice. All comments filed will be made available for public inspection.”

The other method for the public to object is through petition.

If the public seeks to file petitions, FDEP said, “A person whose substantial interests are affected by the proposed permitting decision may petition for an administrative hearing in accordance with Sections 120.569 and 120.57, F.S. Petitions filed by the applicant or any of the parties listed below must be filed within 14 days of receipt of this written notice of Intent to Issue Air Permit. Petitions filed by any persons other than those entitled to written notice under Section 120.60(3), F.S., must be filed within 14 days of publication of the attached Public Notice or within 14 days of receipt of this written notice of Intent to Issue Air Permit, whichever occurs first. Under Section 120.60(3), F.S., however, any person who asked the Permitting Authority for notice of agency action may file a petition within 14 days of receipt of that notice, regardless of the date of publication. A petitioner shall mail a copy of the petition to the applicant at the address indicated above, at the time of filing. A petition for administrative hearing must contain the information set forth below and must be filed (received) with the Agency Clerk in the Office of General Counsel, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, MS 35, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000, [email protected], before the deadline.”

Petitioners can also request an extension of time to file a petition about the chemical processes that would be involved and how the air quality permit application contains data that is no longer relative to the RYAM plant.

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DUFFY GOODMAN(@fincamulahotmail-com)
27 days ago

The only thing I can find on Google for, Jack Imber, a citizens activist and expert on catastrophic blast events, is a reference to a mercenary with a logo of a dragon??? The flash point of ethanol is EXTREMELY higher than gasoline so I don’t understand the previous comparison.

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