SPI MILL Complaints

18 residents complain to board about SPI co-gen plant.

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors received a letter signed by 18 individuals in Loyalton demanding that the Board enforce "all appropriate codes". The complaints stem from noise, and attributes "falling ash" to the plant.

There was a time in living memory when a person complaining about the Mill could receive a whippin’. The mill chinked and clattered away all night, conveyers squeaking, fork lifts roaring and trucks testing their airbrakes. The burner belched a fine black ash that covered the hood of a car solid in a couple of days. It as a bother, but no one much complained because it was pennies from heaven, and represented the purpose and life blood of the town.

Then, the co-gen plant went in and the ash mostly disappeared. Then, by and by the mill shut down and the plant remains.

The enforcement of air quality codes falls not to the Board of Supervisors, but to the Air Quality Management District and the Air Resources Board. Representatives of the Air Quality Management District appeared before the Board of Supes to report that there was, so far, nothing to report. Tests have been run; none have shown the plant to be out of compliance, some taken by the ARB haven’t been returned yet.

There wasn’t much to say.

Supervisor Dave Goicoechea encouraged the AQMD to nag the ARB for the results of the tests. They said they would.  Everybody will.

This reporter has seen the reported ash, it was last winter, though, and there were sooty wood stoves burning all around, and damped down stoves and damp wood made a smoke that struggled to rise, and an inversion layer held a layer of goo a few hundred feet above, so who knows. Likely, an ARB test that day would have shut down wood stoves in Loyalton.

The plant still hires about 22 people. Clearly, that’s too few to represent the life-blood of Loyalton, but it’s still a fair number of pretty good jobs in a county with far too few.

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