Georgia has world’s largest wood pellet factory, and state says its exceeding pollution limits

Enviva’s faciilty in Waycross is considered the world’s largest producer of wood pellets. Enviva Partners LP

A southern Georgia facility considered the world’s largest producer of wood pellets used for fuel ― a process the company claims to be “carbon neutral” ― is releasing as much as three times the allowable amount of hazardous pollution into the air, environmental groups say.

They base the assessment on documents filed with state environmental officials on behalf of Enviva, owner of the Waycross plant that turns trees into nearly 1 million oven-dried tons of wood pellets per year.

“They are just completely blowing past the legal limits for hazardous air pollutants and have been for some time,” said Heather Hillaker, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Meanwhile, the company, which operates similar facilities across the Southeast, faces financial challenges that sent its stock price plunging from a high of more than $82 in April 2022 to less than $1 in November, and triggered a class-action lawsuit by disgruntled shareholders.

That freefall has fueled fears by critics of the pellet industry who worry that cost-cutting efforts by Enviva will lead to more pollution. 12-01-23

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