Olympics causes plant shutdown

By Kris Bevill | September 16, 2008
The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing caused some companies operating within city limits to suspend operations for the summer, including Gushan Environmental Energy Ltd.'s biodiesel production facility.

In an effort to reduce smog in Beijing, the city government forced some industrial facilities with high levels of emissions to close their doors for a certain length of time. Others, including Gushan's facility, were forced to close due to infrastructure changes. Traffic throughout the city was restricted before and during the Olympics to combat significant smog problems. Vehicles with odd-numbered license plates were only allowed to travel on odd days, and vice versa for even-numbered plates. Hazardous material transport was also limited. Therefore, Gushan Chairman Jianqiu Yu said, biodiesel production was rendered "impractical," and the facility was forced to close from Aug. 1 to Sept. 20.

Gushan President Wilson Kwong told Biodiesel Magazine that the decision to temporarily close the facility was made rather quickly after the government stepped up its traffic enforcement measures. As a result of the suspension of its operations, Gushan expects to produce 3 million gallons less than expected this year. However, he said he didn't anticipate sales contracts or customer relations to be affected.

As a whole, U.S. biodiesel producers have yet to deal with a disruption of feedstock supply due to governmental regulations. Patrick MacIntyre, chief executive officer at Blue Sky Bio-Fuels in Oakland, Calif., said he's not worried about restricted supply lines, although he can envision traffic control regulations that unfairly include biodiesel companies. He pointed out that California has Spare the Air days, which don't yet mandate what types of vehicles can operate, but that could change. "It's happened in other places, so I could see it happening," MacIntyre said. Blue Sky collects its own feedstock and uses trucks fueled with B100. "We're carbon-neutral at worst and carbon-negative at best, so I would hope they wouldn't cut us off," he said.
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