Vermont commissioner asks for delay in tire burn

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(Host) Environmental Commissioner Jeff Wennberg says the state needs more time to review a plan by the International Paper Company to burn tires as fuel at its Ticonderoga plant. Wennberg says the delay will also give the state an opportunity to install new air monitoring equipment across the lake from the IPC facility.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) IPC’s proposal to burn tires to reduce the company’s dependence on heating oil has been very controversial. IPC wants to conduct a two-week test burn to monitor the impact that the plan will have on air quality standards. But a number of Vermont environmental groups strongly oppose the test burn because they think the test itself will cause significant air pollution problems.

The Vermont Environmental Conservation Department is reviewing this issue as well as environmental officials in New York State and the federal EPA. Vermont Environmental Commissioner Jeff Wennberg says a preliminary review of the project has revealed concerns about elevated zinc levels associated with the burn.

Wennberg says it’s going to take some time for state and federal environmental officials to try and reach a consensus opinion about this project:

(Wennberg) “With the hope that there will be an agreed to three-way scientific opinion on this thing at some point in the not too far distant future. But the recent information from International Paper has definitely raised the level of concern for some of these issues and it’s going to take some time to sort that out.”

(Kinzel) Wennberg has another major concern about the proposal. The IPC facility doesn’t have a pollution control device, called an electrostatic precipitator:

(Wennberg) “Which is a great big charged chamber that grabs these very, very fine metals and other fine particulates before they go up the stack. This particular the one in Ticonderoga doesn’t have that device on there, so that’s an area of concern because the results from the other places with those devices do exist are reasonably favorable. And in those cases where the devices aren’t on the treatment train the pollution from those plants are not as favorable.”

(Kinzel) Wennberg says the state also plans to install new air quality monitoring equipment in those parts of Vermont where officials believe the test would have the greatest impact. Wennberg says this equipment will provide the state with important baseline data about air quality levels in specific parts of Vermont. The commissioner says this information can then be used to evaluate the test burn – if the test burn ever takes place.

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

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