Test tire burn raise controversy

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(Host) The Douglas administration says it has some concerns over a plan by the International Paper Company to burn tires for fuel at its Ticonderoga plant. The Agency of Natural Resources says it will closely monitor the results of a 30 day test burn that’s scheduled for later this month. But some environmental groups say the state’s response is not enough.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Industry officials say the proposal at IPC is not a new concept. They point out that at least 18 other paper mills around the country are currently burning tires as a way to reduce their dependence on oil.

But that information has not quelled concern about this project in Vermont because the IPC plant is located just on the other side of Lake Champlain. Natural Resources Secretary Wibs McLain says the state plans to send technicians to IPC to monitor the emissions from the plant’s smokestacks so that the administration can better evaluate the long term impact of this proposal:

(McLain) “It’s always a concern. Air is one of those mediums that where you put your output is not necessarily where the impact is. And IPCO is just on the other side of the lake from us and we are very concerned abut that.”

(Kinzel) Some groups are urging IPC to conduct a shorter test period but McLain doesn’t think that’s a very good idea:

(McLain) “The point of doing the test burn correctly is you can count on the results. Shortening it up might bring some of those results into doubt. So we would rather have the perfect data than a shorter window.”

(Kinzel) The Vermont Public Interest Research Group is strongly opposed to the test burn. Ben Davis is the environmental advocate at VPIRG:

(Davis) “I’ve talked to a lot of residents out there in the plume and clearly the Douglas administration is out of step with what Vermonters want. What I’m seeing coming is an uprising against this plan to pollute. Vermonters are, they’re disgusted with this blatant disregard for our health. And what Governor Douglas should be doing – what we’re calling on him to do – is to get on the phone to New York’s governor and call for more pollution controls, not more pollution.”

(Kinzel) Davis says he expects that there will be a major petition drive in the coming weeks to urge the Douglas administration to oppose the test burn.

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

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