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DRT America still sniffing out odor problem
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SPRINGFIELD -- During its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night, the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority received an upate on DRT America's effort to curb smelly emissions from its turpentine-processing facility.

DRT America President Corey Schneider said the $43 million plant at the Governor Treutlen Industrial Site operated at 50 percent capacity on several occasions recently as engineers worked to curb a chemical odor that has drawn complaints. The plant because operable in August 2017.

"For the most part, we are not running regularly because we are finding things that need to be fixed and then stopping to fix them," he said. "... We're still working to optimize equipment and the equipment processes."

Schneider said the plant has produced enough product for shipment. DRT American transforms crude turpentine sulfate into a subtance that is used globally in perfume, adhesives, food supplments and gum.

Schneider said the odor problem is caused by "engineering and design, and operation issues."

"In terms of the engineering and design issues, we've made very substantial modifications already," he said. "The key item is the thermal oxidizer, which is what burns the smelly gasses. We are continuing to make modifications to that and we have hired a consultant from Atlanta who is supposed to be one of the world's best at designing these things.

"He's made some design recommendations and is in the process of installing them. We expect those to be completed within the next month."

Schneider said vapor recovery units have been added where vapors could escape into the atmosphere.

"We've tied those places into the thermal oxidizer," Schneider said.

In addition, plant operators are being trained to notice where vapors might pose a problem.

"We have a new group of operators who are not experienced with this kind of thing," Schneider said. "They are learning and improving. I think people are noticing (the odor problem) is getting better and is less frequent."

DRT America is still searching for a way to dispose of its wastewater. Last November, the Springfield City Council denied its request to use its Harris C. Hinely Water Treatment Plant. 

 "What we are doing right now, just so you know, is treating the wastewater through a reverse osmosis system, which can, bascially, concentrate the waste stream and produce some pretty pure water that we can use in our cooling system in the plant and in our boilers so it, basically, gets evaporated," Schneider said.

Schneider said a concentrate is left needs additional treatment.

"That stream still has to be disposed of and it is being trucked to a water disposal site in Jacksonville (Fla.), at this point in time," he said. 

Scheider encouraged IDA members to offer suggestions if they were aware of any alternative ways to dispose of the wastewater safely. He said the current method isn't cost effective.