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North Carolina DEQ grants air quality permit to Sampson County wood pellet plant

 The main office at Enviva's wood pellet plant in Sampson County, NC.
Celeste Gracia
The main office at Enviva's wood pellet plant in Sampson County, NC.

North Carolina environmental regulators have approved an air quality permit for a wood pellet plant in Sampson County.

The state Department of Environmental Quality Division of Air Quality said the so-called Title V operating permit requires no major changes at the Enviva plant in Faison, about 60 miles southeast of Raleigh. The permit is required under the federal Clean Air Act and was reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The plant produces wood pellets to be burned for energy, mainly in Europe. Enviva is the world's largest supplier of wood pellets. It has been growing thanks to rules that allow producers to treat wood as zero-carbon energy.

In a public hearing and written comments, environmental and social justice groups had sought stronger requirements for dust around the plant. But regulators said they were not needed because there had been no complaints.

The permit allows the plant to emit some potentially hazardous substances but sets limits — 250 tons per year for volatile organic compounds and 25 tons per year for other hazardous air pollutants.

Copyright 2022 WFAE

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.