City Will Get Biodiesel Plant

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Dec 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 AM PDT
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City Will Get Biodiesel Plant

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Over the next few years, you may find the smell of car exhaust giving way to the scent of crisping french fries.

The Port of San Francisco approved plans to build a biodiesel plant on Pier 92, just south of the baseball park. The plant will produce 10 million gallons a year -- or just over 27,000 gallons a day -- from leftover cooking grease.

Supporters consider the project to be win-win. It provides jobs in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, and also provides a greener alternative to fossil fuels.

The plant will be run by Darling International Inc, which has been rendering animal byproducts on the site for years. The Bayview was once known as "Butchertown," due to the concentration of slaughterhouses, and in the 1800s the neighborhood creeks ran thick with blood and offal.

The biodiesel plant promises to be a far more sanitary operation. New odor-control equipment and spill protections will keep the environmental risks of the plant minimal. Still, some neighbors and environmental groups are skeptical. Turning restaurant grease into fuel is a hazardous process, and for decades the area has suffered from repeated chemical spills.

Some of the most recent were caused by Muni, which dumped diesel into Islais Creek twice in recent years, and then ruptured a raw sewage line.

Currently, San Francisco biodiesel is delivered from the midwest, which is costly and causes pollution of its own. The city hopes that its 1,500 biodiesel vehicles will soon be powered by local grease.

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