Vandals strike agency

Politically motivated? Clean air organization considering permit for controversial biomass project

December 08, 2010

OLYMPIA – Vandals glued all the door locks shut at the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency’s building on Limited Lane and threw a brick through a glass door overnight Monday, an agency official said.

An agency spokesman said he was inclined to think that the vandalism was politically motivated.

The agency is considering a permit for a controversial biomass project near Shelton. Opponents of Adage’s plan to build a wood-burning power plant in Mason County say it would degrade the environment and pollute the air.

Some opponents had scheduled a protest for Tuesday afternoon at the agency’s offices on Olympia’s west side. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the only sign of an anti-biomass protest was two people holding signs in the rain at Cooper Point Road and Harrison Avenue.

This is the second time vandals have glued the building’s doors shut, agency spokesman Dan Nelson said. It also happened in October, on a day on which a biomass protest was also scheduled, he said.

Nelson said the vandalism won’t affect agency officials’ decision on whether to recommend the permit.

The building also contains the offices of Catholic Community Services, which is “in the midst of one of their busiest times around the holidays trying to help people,” Nelson said.

The vandals caused about $2,000 in damage, he said. The Olympia Police Department is investigating. The 16 or so agency employees who work at the office were back on the job Tuesday, and locksmiths were repairing the damage, he added.

“We hate to see this type of behavior,” Nelson said. “It’s a waste of public resources.”

The agency still is evaluating the permit application, he said. If it recommends approving the permit, there will be a 30- to 45-day public comment period during which a hearing examiner will hear arguments before a ruling is issued.

The proposed $250 million Adage plant would burn more than 600,000 tons of wood debris each year and generate enough electricity to serve about 40,000 homes. It would provide 750 direct and indirect jobs during a 21/2-year construction period and 200 direct and indirect jobs during plant operation, according to Adage.

It also would release into the air annually about 550,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, along with hundreds of tons of pollutants linked to environmental problems such as smog and acid rain. The pollutants also are linked to respiratory problems.

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