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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring Marinette County Wood Processing Facility to Pay $50,000 in Forfeitures, Fees, and Costs

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that his office has obtained a judgment against Wood Fibers, Inc., requiring it to pay $50,000 in forfeitures, court costs, and surcharges for violations of its Wisconsin air pollution control permit at its Niagara, Wisconsin, wood pellet-making facility.


According to the complaint, Wood Fibers conducted emissions stack tests at its facility on September 14 and 15, 2011, and September 10, 2013.  At both stack tests, Wood Fibers exceeded its hourly particulate matter emissions limitation rates.  At one of the stack tests, Wood Fibers’ measured particulate matter emissions were nearly five times its allowed rate. 


In addition, Wood Fibers violated its permit when it (a) failed to take precautions to prevent particulate matter from becoming airborne at the facility on September 15, 2011, (b) impeded the upward flow of exhaust gases from an emissions stack from September 15, 2011, to February 22, 2012, (c) operated its facility without a cyclone, which controls particulate matter emissions from the facility, on September 15, 2011, and (d) failed to measure and record the pressure drop across the cyclone from July 9, 2012, to February 13, 2013.


Wisconsin facilities that have the potential to emit elevated levels of particulate matter or other air contaminants may be required to obtain an air pollution control permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  Air pollution control regulations and permits minimize emissions through requirements of control equipment, preventative maintenance, and abatement plans to reduce accidental releases.  Uncontrolled air emissions can create a threat to both human health and the environment including the potential to impact the heart and lungs of humans, or impact areas of natural habitat.  Protection of Wisconsin’s natural environment is critical.


As part of the judgment, Wood Fibers is required to hire a qualified consultant specializing in air pollution control to analyze the Wood Fibers facility and provide recommendations to ensure compliance with Wood Fibers’ permit.  Wood Fibers is then required to implement the recommendations and conduct an emissions stack test to demonstrate compliance with its air pollution control permit.


Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Motl represented the State.  The Stipulation and Order for Judgment were approved by Marinette County Circuit Court Judge David G. Miron.


Copies of the Civil Complaint, Judgment, and the Stipulation and Order for Judgment are available here.