IP temporarily halts test tire burn

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(Host) International Paper Company says it temporarily halted a test burn of tire derived fuel at its Ticonderoga, New York plant on Thursday.

The company says readings indicated the level of particulate emissions approached maximum levels allowed under the company’s permit.

Today the company resumed the test.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) The test burn involves burning tire derived fuel, or TDF. It will be burned for fourteen days over a 21 day period. The test began Tuesday morning.

International Paper planned to gradually increase the amount of tire derived fuel it feeds into its boiler up to a maximum of three tons per hour.

Thursday, the amount of TDF being burned was increased from one half ton to one ton per hour. After two hours at that level, operators measured an increase in particulate emissions and decided to stop the test.

Initial, so-called ‘refined data’, released by International Paper indicates that average particulate emissions for the two-hour period reached, but didn’t exceed the limit allowed by its permit. The company says final data isn’t yet available.

Under the permit, the company could have continued to burn for another hour, but decided to halt the test.

The State of Vermont and other opponents of the test burn have singled out particulates, especially small particulates as their major concern.

International Paper spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth says there was no increase in the other emissions being measured during test.

Wadworth the tire burn test involves a very steep learning curve.

(Wadsworth) “We will term this trial a success if we are able to gather quality data that will help us make informed decisions. So it isn’t a certain amount of TDF that we will say is a success, we’re really looking at good data to make good decisions.”

(Zind) On Friday, the company resumed burning TDF at the lower half ton per hour rate. Wadworth says the test will continue at that level until the plant’s operators understand more clearly why particulate emissions increased on Thursday.

In a statement Friday, Vermont Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jeff Wennberg said the results, quote “further add to Vermont’s long-held view that International Paper should install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment on the boiler in Ticonderoga.” unquote

Dr. Cort Lohff of the health department says so far there’s no clear indication that the tire burn is affecting the health of people in Vermont who live downwind from the plant. Lohff says he has received calls from a number of people who are worried they are feeling adverse health affects from the test.

(Lohff) “Certainly there’s folks out there that feel that they’re having some symptoms that they’re attributing to the burn. Whether or not we can establish a cause and effect relationship between those two things. At this point we cannot.”

(Zind) Lohff says the health department is in contact with doctors and emergency rooms. He says at this point no special precautions are being advised for people downwind from the Ticonderoga plant.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Steve Zind.

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