Published online: Jan 07, 2012
Viewed 932 time(s)
Web Exclusive

NAMPA-The new JR Simplot potato processing plant in Caldwell could emit less pollution than the facility it will replace, according to an air quality permit application filed with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality earlier this month.

Simplot plans to begin construction on three new boilers and five processing lines in 2012. The boilers will produce steam heat to clean, dry and fry potatoes on the processing lines. They will also heat the building.

The permit application describes potential air emissions that could affect public health and the environment.

For the most part, the new plant will emit less pollution than the plant it replaces. For example, the new plant will cut emissions of nitrogen oxide from 61.5 tons per year to 34.5 tons per year, carbon monoxide from 65 tons per year to 56.7 tons per year and particulates from 104.3 tons per year to 39 tons per year.

The application does show a potential increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e), from 36,837 tons per year to up to 99,000 tons per year.

Alan Prouty, vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs, said the estimates for greenhouse gas emissions are based on the highest possible emissions for the boilers and processing facilities running at maximum output constantly throughout the year. The actual greenhouse emissions will be significantly lower than that estimate, he said.

New technology should allow the plant to burn fuel more efficiently and release less waste into the atmosphere, Prouty said. In addition, he noted, the plant will trap methane gas from waste water and burn it for fuel.

The 380,000-square-foot plant will be built on the site of the Simplot's existing facilities west of Caldwell on Highway 19. It is expected to begin operation in 2014.

Simplot has not divulged the cost of the new facility, but officials have said it will be the largest single investment the company has ever made in Idaho.

The new plant will replace Simplot's existing potato processing plant in Caldwell with additional closures in the next two to three years of facilities in Aberdeen and Nampa.

SOURCE: Nate Green, Idaho Press-Tribune