The South Coast Air Quality Management District postponed action Tuesday in a hearing to determine if the Commerce refuse-to-energy plant should be allowed to continue operating even though it has exceeded air pollution limits.
The AQMD hearing board continued the hearing until Feb. 17 after more than two hours of testimony for and against continued operation of the plant.
The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Authority, which runs the plant, has requested a variance from AQMD regulations. The AQMD has cited the plant twice this year for violating air pollution limits and has denied the facility full operating permits. The plant has been operating on a construction permit since 1986, and has been running on an emergency permit since last week.
Plant officials contend that their problems stem from a misunderstanding of AQMD limits. The plant has exceeded hourly emission limits for nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide numerous times, but it has only once exceeded daily limits. Plant officials contend they should be held accountable only for the daily emission limits. AQMD officials say the plant must be able to meet hourly emissions limits as well.
The refuse-to-energy plant has been touted as an example of technology that could provide a solution to garbage disposal problems as more landfills close.