State expected to file lawsuits over IP test burn

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(Host) Vermont officials are expected to file a number of lawsuits in state and federal court this week in an effort to block International Paper from conducting a two week test burn of tires at their Ticonderoga, New York plant. The test burn is scheduled to start four weeks from today.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The test burn is being strongly opposed by the state of Vermont on the grounds that it could result in the emission of dangerous chemicals that might threaten the health of Vermonters living across Lake Champlain from the IP facility.

Vermont officials want IP to install special pollution control equipment before the test takes place. But IP argues that it’s premature to install the equipment until they get specific air quality results from the test.

This week Attorney General Bill Sorrell will outline the specific legal strategy the state of Vermont will pursue to block the test burn.

Sorrell says Vermont has a number of options.

(Sorrell)”If we file a federal citizens lawsuit and there’s an appeal by either party or both up to the intermediate appellate court in new York and then potentially all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, there’s a lot of fight in us. I can’t tell you what the ultimate decision is going to be. But standing up for cleaner air in Vermont is what we’re going to do.”

(Kinzel) New York and federal environmental officials have given their approval to the two week test. Sorrell says they’re ignoring some powerful evidence.

(Sorrell) “They acknowledge themselves in their application that there are maybe increases of 21 or 22 different pollutants, several of which are known human carcinogens or cancer causing agents. And the fact that they’re going to be monitoring those pollutants is fine, but it doesn’t make us in Vermont with prevailing winds from the west just across the lake from that plant feel good about what they’re going to be burning and what gook they’re going to be sending our way.”

(Kinzel) Donna Wadsworth is IP’s director of communications. She’s baffled by Sorrell’s concerns about carcinogenic emissions:

(Wadsworth) “The trial protocol was developed in conjunction with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. As far back as 3 years ago they reviewed the protocol, we asked for their input, they gave us some things they wanted us to test for in addition to the normal testing. We’ve incorporated everything into the trial protocol, so I can’t imagine what could be out there that we should be testing for that we’re not.”

(Kinzel) Wadsworth says IP’s permit allows the plant to burn up to three tons of tire an hour. However she says the test will begin with much smaller levels.

(Wadsworth) We’ll be looking at behavior of the fuel in the boiler and ramping up in very small increments until we find a sweet spot for operating.”

(Kinzel) Wadsworth says IP is willing to consider installing the additional pollution control equipment if the results from the test burn indicate such action is needed.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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