MISSION AND CONTACT INFORMATION
SAVE OUR RURAL OREGON , an Oregon 501 C3 nonprofit corporation whose overall mission is to protect Oregon resources– farmland and natural environments from development and industrialization. SORO’s current mission is to oppose siting of an energy facility (or facilities) on land historically used exclusively for farming and natural environments for use by Oregon farmers, residents, wildlife, fish and migratory birds.
PRIME BIOMASS PROBLEM: Proposed site location will ruin Klamath’s image and its fragile natural lands and farmland
HISTORY OF FIGHT AGAINST KLAMATH BIOMASS PROJECT
For almost three and one half years, SAVE OUR RURAL OREGON , an Oregon 501 C3 nonprofit corporation has been opposing the building of a large biomass incinerator which is proposed to be located in the middle of farmland and natural environments and wetlands along the Klamath River in the scenic Klamath River Basin (KRB)adjacent to a wildlife refuge on one side and a rural residential area on the other side. SORO’s research reveals that the location will destroy some of Klamath Falls prime assets: by ruining the scenic beauty and rural atmosphere of the Klamath River Basin hinder attracting tourists, new residents and new high tech industries. In addition SORO has proven that the plant’s proposed location will risk both contamination of surrounding farmland and the fragile wetlands, wildlife habitats, and natural areas which work as part of a total Eco system in the KRB and will risk the river’s health Finally in the long run, this proposed plant will set a precedent to industrialize the entire scenic and fragile adjacent KRB which will risk the river’s health and degrade the entire eco system—wildlife habitats, pacific migratory bird flyway, endangered species and fish.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF BIOMASS PROJECT
Klamath Bioenergy(KBE) is planning to build a 42-megawatt wood fired biomass incinerator on 130 acres of farmland in the Klamath River Basin (KRB) along the Klamath River, 1.1 miles SW of Collins Products (adjacent to a wildlife refuge on one side and a rural residential area on the other side). The plant will burn wood chips to heat water to generate steam to run boilers that drive steam turbines which generate power. Input water will be obtained from local wells and the discharge water will be sent to holding ponds to evaporate.
Biomass fuel–(thinned pine trees) will be obtained from JWTR forests and hauled over 50 miles, on the average, using diesel semi-trucks to the plant via state highways—of which the last 3 miles will be along Hwy 66 through residential neighborhoods (there will be a biomass fuel truck coming along Hwy 66 every3 minutes). In addition, there will be over 30 trucks per week that haul ash out . Other fuel they are permitted to use includes: wood debris, landscape trimmings and construction debris and HCI (hydrochloric acid) emissions are allowed.
The plant structure will be very large with 120 foot high buildings, a 180 high smoke stack, and string its operations and power structures and water pipes the for 1.5 miles along the basin. It will make a huge visible presence (footprint) in the basin with up to 27% smoke opacity and over 96% steam opacity. It will discharge air contaminates and toxic acids through its 180 foot high stack which will be dispersed onto nearby downwind neighborhoods.
NEARBY NEIGHBORHOOD IMPACTS:
There will be a myriad of problems associated with this site because of its proximity to dozens of residences who will be forced to live with the health and traffic consequences of the proposed site for decades to come. Toxic pollution from the plant and truck traffic along with emf pollution from the power lines will make these vulnerable elderly people sick and threaten the lives of those who already have heart and lung diseases. In addition, 500 downwind residents within one mile of the plant will also face grave health risks as well as thousands of downwind Klamath Falls residents.
The proposed plant and its massive footprint will destroy one of Klamath Falls prime assets—the taking away of scenic beauty and rural atmosphere of the Klamath River Basin (one of its few scenic entrances). This site will have drastic negative impacts and hidden costs to our community. This implementation of a short run economic development will degrade our natural resources, beauty and rural atmosphere. It will risk ruining Klamath’s effort to build up its image, livability and its chances for high tech economic development.
CATEGORIZING SOME KEY IMPACTS
1. Destroys some of Klamath Falls prime assets: by ruining the scenic beauty and rural atmosphere of the Klamath River Basin (For attracting tourists, new residents and new high tech industries)
2. Will leave a huge ugly footprint in the KRB for 1.5 miles –visible up to 10 miles away a US 97 and Hwy 66.
3. Will emit hundreds of tons of toxic pollution and steam which will be dispersed downwind to residential areas(because its location outside the non attainment it risks being unregulated by DEQ and EPA)
4. Risks the health of nearby residents and Klamath Falls by the dispersion of pollution downwind to them. (Lung and heart diseases, strokes, asthma, cancer, diabetes, hearing impairment, legionnaires disease, etc)
5. Risks massive traffic congestion and traffic safety problems for residents and school buses and risks the dispersion of massive unregulated truck pollution in neighborhoods.
6. Risks pumping wells of nearby residents dry and discharge water risks contaminating their wells and farm land.
SORO has research that proves that the plants location will risk both contamination of surrounding farmland and the fragile wetlands, wildlife habitats, and natural areas which work as part of a total Eco system in the KRB. This will risk the river’s health and degrade the entire eco system—wildlife habitats, pacific migratory bird flyway, endangered species and fish. Massive toxic pollution discharges from the stack and truck pollution will be emitted into the air and on the soils and the surrounding farmland and drain into the river and there are risks that holding ponds will overflow. Also, there are risks of toxic water discharges and toxic spills that will drain into the river.
The biomass plant is proposed to be located in the middle of larger 1256 acre parcel. A portion of the site will be on a wetland and will displace a an endangered plant–applegate milk vetch area. In addition, there are endangered wild life species on the site and the surrounding adjacent area as well as endangered fish in the river. The entire site, which is on hydric soils, will have to be build up substantially to raise it out of a potential 100 year flood plain and 25 year extreme weather area.(the site elevation is lower than the river elevation much of the year—below the level of dikes). The plant will require a paved road over the seasonal creek wetland and all kinds of structures will be constructed over and under wetlands on the larger parcel to service the plant. (a large water pipeline from the east , a natural gas line, a power line, etc. )
FUTURE RISK TO INDUSTRIALIZE ENTIRE KRB
If the land owners are allowed to use this land site in the scenic KRB for biomass, in the middle of the scenic Klamath River Basin a precedent will be set so that other undesirable dirty industries will be allowed to occupy the entire KRB farming area and natural lands and wetland for two miles along the Klamath River. (see map in the slide show below). Industry will be built in the area in a random fashion without any plan to lessen impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods and the adjacent wildlife areas and the river. This is a foregone conclusion because the entire larger parcel of 1256 acres has been zoned industrial since the 1960’s and the land owners, the Klamath County Development Group and the commissioners have a plan for development of the entire area. The industrial zoning outside the UGB was allowed by filing for LCDL goal exceptions for land uses other than farming—state laws were not as stringent in those days and experts have said this farmland could have never been zoned heavy industrial using today’ standards.
The results will be a high probability that a gradual degradation of the rivers health will occur, along with the degradation of the entire eco system (This devastation will spread like a cancer in this fragile area). The river will undoubtedly be contaminated due to air and truck pollution, runoff and drainage of toxic pollutants into the river and spills, etc. This will damage the rivers health and the endangered fish and salmon, the wetlands and wildlife habitats. It will reverse the overall environmental goal of improving the river’s water quality, the quality of wildlife habitats, etc. (Remember this fragile area is a total eco system.) A further risk is that the LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) line to Coos Bay which exports natural gas to China will cross the parcel
Therefore, SORO’s goal in this huge battle is not just stopping the siting of the 130 acre biomass plan but stopping the use of the natural lands and farmlands of the entire Klamath River Basin for industries. If SORO is able to stop the location of this first biomass industry in the KRB, SORO can use this as a precedent to stop all industrial use and retain the use of the KRB to its natural state of wetland and wildlife habitat use and limited use for farming and grazing. . (Already similar biomass industries are being proposed for the area)
An additional assault on our community that just occurred recently was the announcement that a similar sized biomass plant is going to be built about one mile away from the first plant. The combined size of these two plants would be one of the largest biomass concentrations in the US. The combined toxic pollutants from these two plants risks the drastic deterioration of our air quality.
The combined concentration of toxic pollutants from the two closely located plants will blow into the city of Klamath Falls more than seven months of the year because of prevailing winds. There is also the risk that these pollutants will be combined with pollutants from other dirty industrial plants located between the two biomass plants much of the time. The total combined PM2.5 pollution form this industrial complex is estimated to be over 300 tons per year.