This summer, a multi-disciplinary group of experts completed a major assessment required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of any facility with the potential to impact human health and the environment.
“The Human Health Risk Assessment, or HHRA, takes into account all potential emission sources that could come from the Blue Grass facility and how they could impact the environment,” said Dr. Mike Williams, environmental engineer, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We had to estimate emissions since the main plant is not yet in operations, and we chose to estimate the worst case for each one. These worst-case estimates are still very low, as we focused on ensuring public health, safety and environmental protection from the very beginning when designing and constructing the plant.”
Technicians use software modeling to plot where these worst-case estimated emissions might go and what effect they might have on people and the environment. The modeling showed that even the worst-case estimates would not put the public or the environment at unacceptable risk, Williams said. Once the plant is in operations, samples will be taken and compared to the modeled data. Any real-world risk is expected to be much lower than the modeled data, as the model is using worst-case scenario amounts.
“Due to the planning and effort put in during the design and construction phases, the assessment shows no harm will come to people or the environment from emissions from the operation of this plant,” said Williams. “This has been a long process, but it’s important because it ensures that we will be safe. We’re not going to generate emissions that will be harmful to the workforce, community and environment.”
The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, or KDEP, is now reviewing the assessment. Upon their approval, when the plant starts operations and reaches the expected feed rate, emissions sampling will be performed to verify emissions are within HHRA modeling and the plant will receive approval to continue operations.