Regenis has built, operates, and maintains anaerobic digesters throughout the Western United States. Over the last 15 years, they have had a hand in 13 different digester projects in four different states.
Their digesters have won national awards for their uptime and longevity and have produced clean energy as biogas for thousands of homes as a result of their work.
Regenis didn’t design or build the Port of Tillamook anaerobic digester in 2013. They said that they 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, the precautionary measures weren’t incorporated into the original design in 2013. 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 Regenis’s business. So is their belief in creating clean energy and better stewardship of natural resources.
Michelle Bradley, General Manager of the Port of Tillamook Bay, says that the Dairytech system that the Port built for the digester facility used software that monitored the system and could be controlled remotely. It tracked tank levels, pump volume and velocity, received warnings, monitored maintenance needs, and tracked all information. When the Port decided to cease digester operations two years ago, they didn’t upgrade the software.
Regenis has been conservative with this digester, running at 25 percent of capacity since the beginning of May when they first began accepting manure from local dairy farmers. They are starting it up slowly so they can identify operational and systems issues and recommend those repairs.
“This spill weight heavily on our hearts,” Regenis said in the press release. “We take responsibility to operate a through cleanup process that will limit the damage.”
Port staff notified Regenis of the spill early Monday morning. They 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 Thursday evening, July 25. At that time, they will be able to calculate the actual amount of the spill.
Additionally, Regenis is 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.
Regenis is confident that 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, Regenis 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."