(Host) Governor Jim Douglas is accusing the International Paper Company of deliberately withholding key information from Vermont officials concerning a test tire burn. IPC officials are baffled by Douglas’s remarks because all the information in question is on file at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) The latest controversy over IPC’s proposal to conduct a test burn of tires at their Ticonderoga, New York plant began two months ago when state officials were told by IPC that the company didn’t have any relevant data from a test burn that occurred in 1997. However, earlier this week the Vermont Public Interest Research Group disclosed that there was important data from that test burn – data that suggested that tire burning could result in higher levels of zinc and mercury in the air.
Vermont officials were irate that IPC didn’t voluntarily submit this information to the state. Governor Douglas says he’s very disappointed in the way that IPC has handled this case and the governor says he’s going to take a more skeptical approach with the company in the future:
(Douglas) “I think it’s important that we have a relationship based on full disclosure of complete information about the proposal that’s pending before the New York DEC. And I’m very disappointed in the exchange on this particular topic and we’re certainly going to be very vigilant in our relations with the company going forward.”
(Kinzel) IPC spokesperson Jenny Boardman says her company is surprised by the governor’s reaction because all of this information was given to Vermont environmental officials several years ago:
(Boardman) “His regulatory agencies have had the information. We have directed every inquiry that way and I leave it up to the agencies that are responsible for governing these matters, particularly the DEC, to be in most close contact with that kind of information. And if the governor’s office wants to be in more close contact with it then the governor’s office can go ahead and do that. That’s his choice.”
(Kinzel) Douglas admits that his own environmental agency should have realized that it was in possession of the relevant files, but:
(Douglas) “The more important aspect of this, as I’ve suggested, is to not worry about what happened in 1997 but to worry about what’s going to happen now or not happen now. It doesn’t change my view about insuring that any proposed test burn is done in a safe manner.”
(Kinzel) Boardman says it’s impossible to determine when the test burn might occur because New York State environmental officials have requested additional information concerning this proposal.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.