Morrow Pacific coal project will seek air quality permit from DEQ

A coal export facility planned for the Port of Morrow will have to get an air quality permit after all.

A coal export facility planned for the Port of Morrow will have to get an air quality permit after all. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality rescinded its approval for the construction of a coal export facility in the Port of Morrow last week, requesting that the Morrow Pacific Project secure an air quality permit before building the facility.

The $159 million Morrow Pacific Project, being developed by Australia-based Ambre Energy, had initially applied for the permit but DEQ officials determined the enclosed facility wouldn't need one.

After further deliberation, the DEQ changed its mind.

In a letter last week to the project developers, Mark Fisher, senior permit writer for the DEQ, wrote, "In our first review of the application, DEQ did not account for any uncontrolled emissions from the temporary storage of coal at the facility. This was an oversight because the plans include buildings with vents and scrubbers that will contain, control, or otherwise prevent fugitive emissions from coal storage piles that would typically occur without the buildings in place."

The Morrow Pacific Project issued a press release Tuesday stating the developers would readily resubmit an application for an air quality permit.

Ongoing coverage of the NW coal export debate >>

Coal dust was cited by Portland General Electric as its major objection to a similar coal export facility being proposed by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP in the Port of St. Helens.

There are several coal export projects in the works in the Pacific Northwest The prospects of coal dust, long coal trains and global climate impacts are rankling environmental groups. Coal export backers are touting hefty economic impacts for job-short regions.

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