Regenis has built, operates, and maintains anaerobic digesters throughout the Western United States. Over the last 15 years, we’ve had a hand in 13 different digester projects in four different states. Our digesters have won national awards for their uptime and longevity, and we have produced clean energy as biogas for thousands of homes as a result of our work.
We didn’t design or build the Port of Tillamook anaerobic digester.
Typically, we would have made some different design and fail-safe recommendations, like additional sensors in the digester’s tanks to shut the system down in an emergency and larger containment capacity.
For whatever reason, these precautionary measures weren’t incorporated into the original design. As a result, when a system failure occurred, as it did late Sunday night, the tanks didn’t automatically shut down, and the manure escaped the containment zone into nearby fields.
Attention to details and high standards are at the core of our business. So is our belief in creating clean energy and better stewardship of our natural resources.
We knew we had a big job in front of us when we first showed up at the Port of Tillamook in February 2019. At that point, the digester had been shut down for nearly two years. There were built up solids on the walls, and the tank roof was patched. That roof collapsed within the first month of limited operation.
We have been very conservative with this digester, running it at 25% of capacity since the beginning of May when we first began accepting manure from local dairy farmers. We are starting it up slowly so we can identify operational and systems issues and recommend those repairs.
This spill weighs heavily on our hearts. We take responsibility to operate a thorough cleanup process that will limit the damage.
Port staff notified us of the spill early Monday morning. We immediately initiated the environmental cleanup process and had contained all of the spill onsite by Monday evening.
The process of pumping the spillage back into the tanks will be completed by tomorrow (Thursday) evening. At that time, we will be able to calculate the actual amount of the spill.
Additionally, we are working with the Port of Tillamook, Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine how much (if any) of the spill flowed into Anderson Creek.
We are confident there is no danger to Tillamook Bay or the shellfish industry that’s so vital to the region’s economy.
Longer-term, it will take three to four months to make this digester ready to operate at full capacity. Until then, we will continue to take in a limited amount of manure to reduce the risk to the Tillamook community and the environment.
We understand how upsetting this episode is for the people who live in coastal Oregon. Given the long list of benefits of anaerobic digesters for our farmers, our soil, our watersheds, and our planet, we hope the community looks past this unfortunate incident.