Officials keeping close eye on possible tire burn health issues

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(Host) Vermont officials say they plan to keep a very close watch on any environmental or health problems that might arise during International Paper’s two week test burn of tires at their Ticonderoga, New York plant. The test is scheduled to begin next Monday.

The Vermont plan includes new monitoring equipment in Addison County and the activation of a public health surveillance program along the western side of the state.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Vermont officials are still hopeful that they can stop the test tire burn through legal action but they’re preparing to closely monitor the test if a federal court doesn’t step in to postpone it.

The state of Vermont is trying to force International Paper to install state of the art pollution control equipment before the test – IP says it’s holding the test to determine if this equipment is really needed.

Acting Vermont Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt says the state has asked hospitals in Burlington, Middlebury and Rutland and health care providers in the region to report any increase in pollution related illnesses:

(Moffatt) “Essentially it provides is information in trends that are happening in emergency rooms and in out patient clinics in hospital admissions to show any peak, for example in higher rates of respiratory illness or higher rates of cardiovascular. So that system is already in place. But we’re continuing to update that information, looking at that on a daily basis.”

(Kinzel) Moffatt says the state has installed two new monitoring systems in Addison County and it will have a technical expert on site at the IP plant so that pollution levels can be continuously watched:

(Moffatt) “Should the burn happen we feel we are well positioned with both departments to do and bring all of that information together in a timely way to help Vermonters understand the full impact of the burn.”

(Kinzel) IP spokesperson Donna Wadsworth says the goal of the project is to determine the feasibility of burning up to 72 tons of tires a day as an alternative heating fuel known as tdf.

(Wadsworth) “What happens then is we spend the first week actually doing a very carefully calculated gradual ramp up of feeding the tdf into the boiler with a lot of incremental testing and analysis at each step. And in the following week we would do tdf at the maximum feed rate that is established during the first week and do significant testing every day.”

(Kinzel) Wadsworth says the plant has agreed to shut the test burn down if pollution levels exceed standards established by the state of Vermont.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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