The 18-acre facility on Atomic Road has been under construction since mid-2011 and is designed to shred tires into pellets that will be combined with wood chips and burned as fuel at a new biomass steam generating plant at Savannah River Site.
The biomass facility, scheduled to go online Jan. 10, was built by Massachusetts-based Ameresco, which has a 20-year, $795 million contract with the U.S. Energy Department to build and operate the 17-megawatt plant.
The tire facility, whose official name is S.C. Tire Processing LLC, is operated by Ameresco independently of the biomass plant and will require permits administered by DHEC’s Bureau of Land & Waste Management, agency spokesman Adam Myrick said.
A draft permit has been completed and is out for public comment until Jan. 18, according to a notice mailed to residents and interested parties in the vicinity of the tire shredding site. If no comments are received, the permit will be issued as written.
As a condition of obtaining a permit, the tire site must be operated in compliance with state and federal laws governing waste tire operations, and must also abide by several special conditions.
Those conditions require that tires and tire-derived materials can be stored only in designated areas, and that no more than 437,000 whole, unprocessed waste tires can be stored on the site at any given time.
If that capacity is reached, the draft said, the plant must cease acceptance of additional tires until the number in storage is below the limit.
The permittee was also notified that if data emerges indicating environmental or health problems associated with the facility, DHEC has the right to require monitoring of surface water, groundwater and air “to ensure protection of the environment.”
Once fully operational, the biomass plant at SRS will generate almost half the electricity needed for the site, and will also enable the Energy Department to retire a 1950s-vintage, coal-fired power plant in the site’s D Area that currently emits 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide fumes, 400 tons of particulate pollution and 3,500 tons of sulfur dioxide per year, according to DOE. Those emissions will be eliminated once the coal-fired site is closed.