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Thread: Toxic Emissions?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Berkeley, CA, USA
    Posts
    3

    Toxic Emissions?

    Hey everyone,

    Long-time reader on probrewer and we're finally setting our own plan in motion to open a brewery in the SF Bay Area. There's been some small but vocal opposition to our project which requires a Conditional Use Permit from the city. The CUP has been approved but subsequently appealed by a couple neighbors. We're in full compliance with all of the local zoning ordinances but the neighbors are fearing the worst and so far we haven't been able to get anywhere in negotiating with them to withdraw their appeal.

    One of their big concerns is regarding toxic emissions coming from the kettle, boiler, or kitchen equipment. One house is located about 60' up a steep hill right behind our building and they're worried about NOx, CO, etc wafting up and posing a health risk. Our kitchen layout isn't final but we're planning to have a pizza oven and no fryers.

    Has anybody dealt with this type of issue before? Any breweries or brewpubs in a similar geographic situation with residences nearby?

    Another concern is outdoor patio noise. Has anyone used acoustic panels outdoors to reduce the sound, or used any other solutions?

    Thanks!
    Trevor Martens
    Pond Farm Brewing Co.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Pasadena MD USA
    Posts
    29
    Any change of employing an electric boiler (i.e. Sussman, etc.) or a directly-heated electric brewhouse? That would eliminate all CO and NOx emissions at your facility. They're more expensive to operate, dollars of energy per BTU, compared to natural gas... but this may be a cases where an electric boiler makes sense.

    Concerning patio noise, it's difficult to soundproof a space without enclosing it. A tall privacy fence will attenuate noise to a modest degree, but you'll still leak a lot of sound. Most folks I know who deal with similar issues make arrangements to limit operating hours of the outdoor area.

    They're actually complaining about emissions from kitchen equipment? I wonder how they eat at home??? Anyway, you can get pizza ovens and all other appliances in electric too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    8
    How big is your boiler (btu/hr)?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Berkeley, CA, USA
    Posts
    3
    I suppose we could do an electric boiler, I haven't looked into that. As it is, being in California we have to have a low-NOx boiler anyway. The equipment manufacturer has specified a 680,000 Btu/hr boiler for our 15 bbl brewhouse.

    We're already limited by our CUP to shutting the patio down at 9pm weeknights, 10pm weekends. Seems reasonable to me as it is but we're looking into acoustic outdoor panels and such as a show of good faith.

    Good idea with the electric pizza oven. We're going to phase in the kitchen equipment so I don't have do make that decision yet, but that should help. I think the toxic gas concern is unreasonable, especially since we're sitting right on 6 lanes of commercial thoroughfare and the vehicle emissions have to be much worse than anything we could produce, but I'm doing my best to prove to them it's not an issue.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
    Trevor

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    416
    Not sure where NOX comes out of a brewery from but yes there will be some CO2 but since this is heavier than air it will go down and not up. Is this zoned light manufacturing or are there other businesses around? Seems this person is far more worried about noise and just plain cant stand change
    Mike Eme
    Brewmaster
    Cheboygan Brewery
    Cheboygan Michigan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Berkeley, CA, USA
    Posts
    3
    It's in a commercial zone with residential behind it, and it's been zoned that way for ~80 years. Agreed, except this person moved into their home 3 years ago so it's not like they weren't aware of the zoning.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    38
    Ah, California... where environmental activism on all manner of obscure topics comes out of the woodwork, and surely the process is never abused by folks who just don't want anything built anywhere ever. /s

    Seriously, though, as somebody who dreams of someday opening a brewery in the Bay Area, I'm fascinated to see how this works out for you. Will you invest in good-faith efforts to address the (supposed) concerns? Will that help with the objectors, or at least with whoever's refereeing the complaint? Good luck, godspeed, and let us know how it goes!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    473
    Same thing happened to Pyramid wen they were there. The prevailing winds blew the vented air/steam from the facility straight into some persons window on the hill overlooking the bay. They complained, Pyramid had to essentially put in an incinerator that burned anything that was being vented to destroy the smell. Bigger cities = bigger problems when it comes to things like this. It is an unfortunate cost of doing business in these areas, regulate everything before there is a problem, without any research into whether or not there will actually be a problem.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,575
    Wow. Bay Area--And you're going to serve dead animals for people to eat!

    Your 680 kBTU boiler seems undersized to me. We run 1.25 mBTU for a 20 bbl house--just a heads-up.

    While your CUP needs to address the current complaints, I'm sure the normal smells of operating a brewery and restaurant will be the next problem, esp. the brewery. You might want to address that problem pro-actively, as it will be much easier to do it the first time around instead of trying to retro-fit later. I can tell it's a brew day at our brewery from across town. Some folks like the smell, but I'm sure the Whineys above you will not.

    How will you dispose of spent grain? Spent grain left outside for a day or two gets pretty ripe, and is sure to bring the wrath of the neighbors down upon thee!
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    416
    I just had another thought adressing the steam from the stack of the kettle. A long time ago I worked at a brewery that took that steam and ran it into a cooling chamber that had just tap water spraying into it to cool the steam and ran it down into the drain. Now, this of course brings in the issue of water usage in that state. Our brewery is in a light manufacturing area and the neighbor complained to the board about the smell of the steam (never mind the 10 people that was on the deck smoking cigarettes). The board forwarded it to us we met all requirements for the vent stack and the board told the neighbor sorry, but it is legal and your house is next to a business zoned area so that was that
    Mike Eme
    Brewmaster
    Cheboygan Brewery
    Cheboygan Michigan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    West Guilford, ON, Canada
    Posts
    118
    Quote Originally Posted by beerguy1 View Post
    I just had another thought adressing the steam from the stack of the kettle. A long time ago I worked at a brewery that took that steam and ran it into a cooling chamber that had just tap water spraying into it to cool the steam and ran it down into the drain. Now, this of course brings in the issue of water usage in that state. Our brewery is in a light manufacturing area and the neighbor complained to the board about the smell of the steam (never mind the 10 people that was on the deck smoking cigarettes). The board forwarded it to us we met all requirements for the vent stack and the board told the neighbor sorry, but it is legal and your house is next to a business zoned area so that was that
    We use a vapour condensate stack. Steam is routed up the stack where it condenses into liquid (with a very small amount of steam remaining) which simply runs to our trench drain. Around the steam stack is a copper coil. Cold water runs up the copper loop, gets hot and is collected in our HLT. We heat roughly 200L of water from ground temp to 90C this way (over the course of a 90 minute, 1800-2400L boil). The added effect of the cold water loop is that it cools the inner steam channel which improves the condensation action and helps pull the steam from the kettle. No chimney, very little additional humidity inside the building.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    373
    I would look at getting a vapor condensate stack for your kettle. That will keep the smell down and you can say that you're not emitting anything during the boil. Then you're only looking at venting out your burners, or going electric.
    Manuel

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    west coast
    Posts
    142

    You're lucky

    these are actually pretty easy to deal with it would seem. and as these are all fact-based complaints they're easy to combat. gentrification, "ruining the neighborhood" and crowding out small business are alot harder to argue as they're all subjective.

    big question you didnt detail- is the CUP for the brewery use, or the "brewpub" use with kitchen/food/drinks, or the patio? or a combination?

    in the case of your patio, the operating hours are your main defense. rely on those, the fact that the planning board/commission is inherently familiar with the issues that arise from these uses and they deem it reasonable therefore the neighbors are being unreasonable. as noted above, sound dampening in an open environment is pretty hard to do on a small scale. if you are going to provide music, use a dozen small speakers instead of 2-3-4 big ones. post signs all over asking folks to respect the neighbors. be careful about light pollution. etc. etc. SF has "good neighbor policy" for bars, see if berkeley has one. if not, voluntarily choose to do as many of the policies as you can or are relevant to show good faith.

    as for the gases, its a light industrial zone, and they're on the border. zoning rules here. but dont be afraid to get some air sampling done or find some recent figures from BAQMD for your area. then have someone calc out your contributions to CO, NOX, etc. my guess is that they're tiny and irrelevant as berkeley, albany, richmond, etc are all industrial along the waterfront. iron/steelworks, metal/welding/plating type uses, auto yards, bakeries, biodiesel, etc. you're tiny compared to them. as noted electric is an option, but be prepared to pay big for a 100-150KVa transformer setup if thats whats required. takes alot of power to run electric brewhouse/glycol/walkin/etc. at that size. PGE is VERY SLOW in reviewing your project. in SF, they're telling us 16 weeks just for engineering. be warned.

    but i really dont think the gases are a concern. all equipment is low NOX these days if its new in CA. ditto for CO if running correctly. thats why you might wanna have some data to show you are basically a negligible factor. and DO NOT bring up the issue of smells. if they bring it up, state a plan to have green dumpster dumped every other day, and a condensate stack for kettle. but dont offer it unless challenged.

    long story short, they've appealed. talk to your planner, discuss with him/her the fact that its kind of a BS complaint and see what their response is. if you really are checking all the boxes from a planning/zoning standpoint, then these folks dont really have too much of a leg to stand on. which is why you got the initial approval. but they can still slow you down. so take these pieces of advice, put it in a document you can send to the planner as well as the neighbors to prove you attempted to work with them. if they just wont play nice, then reconcile yourself to that and you'll be able to show that you've made a good faith effort to address the issues and leave it on them to be the ones who refuse to negotiate. planners get a bad rap alot of the time, but they typically want to see things get approved if it meets code. they can get frustrated by these stupid appeals just like you as it makes more work for them.

    but at the end of the day, it is what it is. if the neighbors wont play nice, be the "good guy" and let them look like the jerks. sometimes thats all you can do.

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