The health and safety of our workers and of the neighborhood is our top priority. The decomposition of plant material creates a distinct odor and methane, a naturally occurring substance that under the right conditions is flammable. The familiar flare at a landfill is a reminder of these health, safety and quality of life concerns. However, biodigesters are vastly different from landfills and pose minimal impacts and risks because they rely on the latest technology to protect employees and neighbors. Star BioEnergy plans to invest $40 million in state-of-the-art equipment from GE Power and Water.
Here are some facts that address understandable concerns:
Explosion and Fire
GE’s technology is being used in about 200 professionally run biodigesters worldwide – without a single fire or explosion. At the planned Louisville facility, the captured methane would be pumped into existing underground natural gas lines, not stored in large volumes on site or trucked through neighborhoods, which further reduces potential risks.
Biodigesters are used to reduce odors on farms and other locations that create waste. In Louisville, organic materials will be either piped into the biodigester from Heaven Hill’s distillery or arrive in enclosed trucks. The trucks will only be unloaded indoors, with closed doors, and will be washed down before exiting. The biodigestion process takes place in tanks without oxygen so it doesn’t produce odors. The buildings are pressure-controlled to keep any odors from the waste indoors, where the air is filtered three times an hour.
Biodigester facilities have a net positive impact on air quality, according to a 2014 White House report (pdf) on reducing methane emissions. These facilities reduce traffic driving through neighborhoods and lessen the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.
The operations of the proposed biodigester, measured at the street, should be quieter than a conversation between two people.