(Host) With challenges and legal appeals by opponents exhausted, International Paper is poised to begin feeding ragged, thumb-sized pieces of shredded tire into a boiler used to generate power at its Ticonderoga plant.
The company had planned to begin a controversial two week test burn of tire derived fuel today, but officials say they’ve rescheduled the start of the test until Tuesday morning to allow more time for preparations.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports:
(Wadsworth) “Good morning, I’d like to welcome you to International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill this morning…”
(Zind) International Paper Company officials are sensitive to the controversy caused by the test burn and they invited reporters to the plant Monday morning in order to reiterate many of the points they’ve been making for the last several years.
Plant spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth explained that the Ticonderoga plant is the company’s most expensive when it comes to the cost of the fuel needed to power it.
She says burning less oil and more tire-derived fuel could save millions of dollars a year.
Wadsworth says environmental officials from New York State, Vermont and the federal government will monitor emissions from the burn to make sure they’re within the legal limits.
Opponents of the test, including the State of Vermont, have argued that some critical emissions aren’t being monitored.
They’ve demanded that the company install better equipment to reduce emissions.
Wadsworth says it would be unwise to spend millions of dollars on additional equipment until its determined that burning tire-derived fuel is feasible in the long term.
(Wadworth) “We may not pursue this project. We may put tire derived fuel in the boiler, decide it doesn’t handle well in our boiler, doesn’t mix well, doesn’t fire well, we’re not happy with it – and we will drop the project. You wouldn’t put that kind of money into a project unless you knew you were going to go ahead.”
(Zind) A few miles from the plant, a group of about three dozen demonstrators walked the Crown Point Bridge between Vermont and New York Monday morning. Joanna Colwell was one of the demonstrators.
(Colwell) “Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean that you pollute up until the legal limit and say, we didn’t break any laws’. Being a good neighbor means that you listen and the state of Vermont has spoken loud and clear.”
(Zind) The State of Vermont has two permanent monitoring stations near the plant and its installed additional equipment just for the test to check for particulates, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, sulfates and other emissions.
Carl Anderson is a state environmental technician.
(Anderson) “We’re sampling every day here where normally we’d be on an every three day schedule.”
(Zind) But Vermont officials won’t know the results until after the two week test is over. That’s because their samples have to be sent away for analysis.
In order to burn tires on an ongoing basis, International Paper will have to submit a new application. The company says it won’t make a final decision on whether or not to take that step until late this year, or early next.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.