Douglas prepared to file tire burn lawsuits

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he’s prepared to file several lawsuits in state and federal court to prevent the International Paper Company from conducting a test tire burn at its Tigonderoga, New York plant.

New York State environmental officials are expected to issue a permit for the test burn in the next few days.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) International Paper says it wants to conduct a test to see if it’s feasible to burn tires as an alternative fuel source at their facility. But Vermont officials are objecting to the plan because IP isn’t installing specific pollution control equipment before the test.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell says the state of Vermont is calling for a full environmental impact study of the proposed tire burn, but to date, New York officials have opposed this request.

Sorrell says Vermont will appeal this decision because studies indicate that the test burn will release chemicals into the air that could harm the public’s health from Rutland to St. Albans:

(Sorrell) “No tires will be burned without a fight and a big fight. There’s no reason in our view why we should be the guinea pigs down wind with prevailing westerly winds from this test burn.”

(Kinzel) Governor Jim Douglas says he’s not opposed to a test tire burn at the IP plant. He just wants the company to install proper pollution equipment first.

(Douglas) “The company has made the decision at other plants that it owns in other parts of the country that this is the right thing to do. So why isn’t it the right thing to do in Tigonderoga to protect the health and safety of the people of Vermont ?”

(Kinzel) IP spokesperson Donna Wadsworth says the company’s plants that currently burn tires use coal as their major fuel source, and that’s why the extra pollution control equipment is needed. She says the Tigonderoga plant burns oil.

Wadsworth says one of the key purposes of the test burn is to determine if the equipment is needed at the Tigonderoga plant.

(Wadsworth) “We are not at all opposed to putting additional pollution control systems on the boiler. What we are contending and what the permitting and the science is backing up is that we need to do a trial to determine if indeed the additional pollution control system is merited.”

(Kinzel) Wadsworth argues that the public’s health isn’t in jeopardy because the test burn will be shut down if pollution levels begin to approach state and federal limits.

(Wadsworth) “None of the short term health standards for Vermont or New York will be violated if we even approach those limits the trial would cease.”

(Kinzel) Once a final permit has been issued for the project, Wadsworth says it will take between 30 and 45 days to prepare for the test burn.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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