332 Shady Grove Church Road ~ Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27107 ~ Phone (336) 769-0955 ~ Email:


December 22, 2009

David Mickey 336-624-2412 (cell)
Sam Tesh 336-366-7905
Deborah Kornegay 919-658-6321

Fibrowatt Flunks Major Tests In Minnesota

League Challenges North Carolina Regulators and Calls for Hearings

Today in letters mailed to state officials the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League challenged North Carolina’s environmental and utilities regulators to consider major permit violations at a poultry litter incinerator in Minnesota before allowing similar projects to proceed. The plant’s operator, Fibrowatt LLC, wants to build three more incinerators in North Carolina to burn poultry waste. A settlement agreement between Fibrowatt and the state of Minnesota was released to the League December 17.

A review of the 31-page settlement agreement found numerous reporting deadlines that were missed, in many cases for several months. More alarming to the League were the stack violations. Fibrominn exceeded limits of particulate matter (soot), nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO).

The League and its chapters where the plants would be built had vigorously urged Minnesota officials to release information about the violations after learning of them last year. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office refused to make any details public until after a settlement agreement was signed. Negotiations with Fibrowatt went on for fourteen months. The plant, Fibrominn, continues to operate.

“The list of violations in this settlement reveals a pattern of contempt for the rules and an inability to meet even the most basic environmental standards,” said David Mickey, the League’s Zero Waste and Safe Energy Coordinator. “We would hope that no company in North Carolina that misses permit deadlines for months, violates its emissions limits and even fails to monitor the plant’s emissions could still continue to operate,” he added.

The violations included:

• Late emissions testing for hydrogen chloride, PM10, and mercury;
• Missing reports for performance testing, monitoring downtime, testing plans, deviations, and compliance certifications;
• Excess emissions for total particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

The final settlement imposed a $65,000 fine on the company plus a requirement to spend at least $80,000 to install additional monitoring equipment. Following more emissions modeling and emissions testing, major amendments to the air quality permit will be implemented in 2010 in an effort to better regulate the Fibrominn plant.

Sam Tesh, who chairs the Citizens’ Alliance for a Clean, Healthy Economy (CACHE) in Surry County expressed his concerns about Fibrowatt. "The Surry County Commissioners had a report from Fibrominn about the violations as early as September of 2009. When questioned by concerned citizens about the report, they said they had read it and there was nothing to worry about--it was simply a matter of paperwork not being done on time. The settlement shows that there was more than late paperwork involved,” he said.

In Duplin County, Citizens for a Safe Environment Co-Chair Deborah Kornegay reacted to the settlement with an appeal to county commissioners and state legislators. "I visited the Fibrominn plant in 2008, and I'm very concerned about the health and environmental impact of such a plant on North Carolina, especially now that the list of violations in Minnesota has been released. It's time for Sampson, Surry, and Montgomery County Commissioners, as well as state legislators, to listen intently to the legitimate concerns of their constituencies," she said. Citizens for a Safe Environment members live close to the proposed site of a Fibrowatt incinerator near the Sampson/Duplin county line.

David Mickey added, “North Carolina’s renewable energy statute requires companies, like Fibrowatt, to use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to reduce emissions. In this case, the only example the state has to determine what’s “Best” is Fibrominn because it is the only operating plant in the United States. As of now, that permit is still being amended and Fibrowatt is still testing.

“Their record in Minnesota raises serious unanswered questions about what is best for North Carolina. We have previously asked the state to hold public hearings in the targeted communities to get input on what constitutes Best Availability Control Technology in North Carolina. We repeat that request today,” he concluded.

The settlement agreement is posted on the League’s website at


More info: Fibrowatt | Dec. 21, 2009 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Press Release |
Fibrominn Violations FAQ