Long Beach needs to change the operation rules for its trash incineration plant or face continued violations for nitrogen oxide emissions, a major component of smog, a city official said.
The city has asked the South Coast Air Quality Management District to change its rules so that nitrogen oxide emissions from the Southeast Resource Recovery Facility will be averaged over an hour instead of every 15 minutes.
That way, the city could avoid being cited or fined for occasional short durations of nitrogen oxide emissions because plant operators would have a longer period to return the plant to normal operations, city Solid Waste Manager Bill Davis said.
Otherwise, Davis told the City Council, the plant is expected to exceed its maximum allowable output of nitrogen oxide about once every 10 days. The builder of the plant, Dravo Corp., could be held financially liable if the plant fails to meet pollution standards, he said.
The high-tech plant on Terminal Island burns trash to produce electricity. Council members hailed the $100-million plant as helping protect the city from a landfill crisis that is expected to affect all cities in Southern California over the next few years.
Davis said the bursts of nitrogen oxide are produced by surges of temperature in the plant's furnace. Also, the plant's nitrogen oxide emissions rise when it burns nitrogen-rich grass clippings or tree trimmings.