Biofuels company left behind materials despite never starting up

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMarch 9, 2014 

PASCO -- Green Power has left behind a mountain of shredded plastic, straw and paper at the Pasco biofuels plant it never finished.

The materials are packed into more than 140 white bags and large open cardboard boxes covering much of the floor of one of two rented Port of Pasco warehouses.

One bag alone weighs 1,358 pounds, according to writing on the outside.

There also are bales of straw and a pallet of phone books waiting to be chopped up and turned into biodiesel.

Bags of a white powder believed to be the catalyst that Green Power described in court documents also sit unopened in the warehouse.

It's unclear why Green Power had so much material on hand because the state Department of Ecology halted the construction on the plant more than six years ago until an air quality permit could be issued. That never happened.

But Green Power CEO Michael Spitzauer said he continued to show his system to potential customers and investors and ran tests.

Spitzauer and business partner Christian Koch, the German inventor who held the patent to the technology, split in 2006.

Koch told The News Tribune in Tacoma that year that Spitzauer never paid him for the mobile demonstration unit of the technology.

Alphakat, Koch's company, also asserted that Spitzauer and Green Power had no rights to the technology.

But inside the main warehouse is a small test system that Spitzauer claims will turn garbage into fuel.

The device, about the size of an oven, is a tangle of valves and wires with a laptop computer sitting on the top.

On Green Power's Facebook page, a video shows people peering at the small demonstration unit.

Green Power officials have said the unit was damaged in a fire about seven years ago.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency cited Green Power for failing to report the fire to the EPA.

But EPA officials recently told the Herald that Green Power was never fined and investigators decided against pursuing the case. They did not explain why.

Also inside one Pasco warehouse is what appears to be a mobile plant being built inside a long, white trailer.

Outside looms the large framework of a plant that Green Power officials say is operational but the state contends never was.

It's about three stories tall, with an even taller tank, along with other tanks and piping.

A former Green Power employee told the Herald that the company's 13 employees mostly sorted through garbage that was supposed to be converted into fuel at the plant.

Spitzauer would bring in his own personal garbage and wood scraps for workers to shred using a wood chipper, the worker said. They also sorted rocks out of horse manure.

Spitzauer used Green Power's Facebook page to explain the delays in finishing the plant, including claims that companies changed their minds, wanting their money back because they couldn't get an exclusive deal on Green Power's technology.

He's charged with making fraudulent agreements to build plants in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, India and Canada and to sell a mobile plant to an Irish company.

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