Report

A Health Impact Assessment of the Proposed Cabin Creek Biomass Energy Facility in Placer County, California

overview

This Health Impact Assessment (HIA), performed by the Sequoia Foundation in collaboration with the Placer County Departments of Planning and Health and Human Services with technical support from the California Department of Public Health, was a year‐long process to assess the potential health effects related to the proposed biomass energy facility (BEF). Health impacts related to air quality, wildfires, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic and transportation, water quality, noise, and economic and energy security were considered. Both positive and negative health effects were considered in the assessment, and recommendations were made to protect and improve community health. Community input was solicited and incorporated in many phases of the assessment.

HIA Summary Findings

The HIA found that Placer County’s proposal for the two megawatt Cabin Creek Biomass Facility Project will likely benefit community health in the Lake Tahoe Region through the removal of forest slash and reduction of wildfire fuels, the diversion of open pile burns to more emission efficient combustion,  and the diversification of energy sources.

Project Health Impacts and Recommendations

AIR QUALITY

Regional air quality will improve from the reduction of open pile burning. Low levels of emissions will be concentrated at the proposed project site; there is little evidence to suggest that these emissions will negatively impact health in surrounding communities.

Recommendations

Develop a communications plan between residents and facility operators. Clear communication from facility operators and/or County staff could ease community anxieties regarding the facility.

More frequent on-site inspections—for example, once during summer months and once during winter months—could ease community anxieties regarding emissions during winter months when an inversion layers often present

WILDFIRES

The project will reduce health effects related to wildfires and wildfire  risk.

Recommendations

Explore the feasibility of using residential wood waste as biomass fuel for the facility, including materials from wildfire defensible space clearance round homes.

GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) EMISSIONS

The project can benefit GHG reduction strategies when considering ts broader  impact on energy production and wildfire reduction. Health effects due to GHG emission reductions will not occur from this project alone.

No Recommendations

TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORTATION

The relative increase in traffic and its associated risk to health is very small.

Recommendations

Improve  signage on SR 89 ear Cabin Creek Road warning cyclists of project--‐related vehicles, and warning vehicles of the presence of a cyclist/pedestrian pathway.

WATER QUALITY

The proposed biomass facility will pose minimal health risk in terms of water security given mitigation measures in place.

No Recommendations

NOISE

Noise is not expected to impact health given the small impact the additional traffic will have on existing noise levels, and the remoteness of the project facility  from the nearest households.

Recommendations

Develop strong communication channels between nearby community residents and the Project Manager of the biomass facility to ensure that any noise complaints are quickly and expediently resolved.

ECONOMIC AND ENERGY SECURITY

The project may have small and limited positive health effects related to energy and economic security.

Recommendations

Prioritize the hiring of local contractors for both facility construction and operations, as feasible.

Media Contact

Jessica Hallstrom

Officer, Communications

202.540.6718