Douglas awaits environmental data from tire burn test

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(Host) The Douglas administration is still reviewing a plan by the International Paper Company to conduct a two week test of burning tires at its plant in Ticonderoga, New York. Douglas says the state of Vermont won’t oppose the test burn if state officials conclude that the project will not cause environmental problems.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) International Paper wants to look into the feasibility of burning tires as a way to help reduce its dependency on heating oil. If the project goes forward, millions of tires would be burned at the company’s facility in Ticonderoga, New York, just across Lake Champlain from the western part of Addison County. The practice of tire burning is taking place at more than 15 other paper plants across the country.

IPC wants to conduct a two-week test burn to monitor air pollution levels. The plan is being strongly opposed by several environmental groups in Vermont because of concerns of increased levels of mercury, chromium and arsenic in the air and nearby water supplies.

Douglas says the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is working with IPC officials to allow the state to closely monitor the test burn. IPC maintains that Vermont has no legal standing concerning the test burn, and that only the state of New York has that authority:

(Douglas) “That may be the correct legal analysis, I don’t know, but I plan to be involved. I’m going to continue to express my view, which is if the Natural Resources Agency heads in our two states – along with the Environmental Protection Agency – sign off on it, only then will I be comfortable in moving forward. We need to let the process go forward and have the science presented to these three environmental agencies and see what they say.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he’s open to the possibility that tire burning may turn out to be a worthwhile project:

(Douglas) “You know it’s possible that we’ll decide this is in fact a safe procedure. It might be a great way of disposing of tires that are otherwise piled on bunker silos on our farms across the state. It’s done in other states and presumably, environmentally sensitive states like Maine wouldn’t allow it unless it were safe. So we ought to see what the scientific evidence is but I want to be sure that there’s no degradation of our air quality in Vermont.”

(Kinzel) IPC officials say they want to start the test burn in the next week or two but opponents are investigating ways to delay the project.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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