Concerned Community Members and Experts Speak Out Against Wheelabrator Concord Company’s Air Pollution Permit at Public Hearing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Concord, NH — At a public hearing sponsored by the Department of Environmental Services (DES), concerned residents will voice their opposition to a proposed Title V air permit for the Wheelabrator trash incinerator in Concord. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 7 at the DES Concord office at 29 Hazen Drive. The hearing begins at 6 PM.
Every day the Wheelabrator incinerator burns approximately 575 tons of household garbage, commercial trash, and ‘light’ industrial and ‘special’ wastes. More than 5 million tons of trash have been burned in Concord since the incinerator opened in 1989, resulting in over a million tons of toxic ash and air pollution impacting a wide area. According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, “All incinerators pose considerable risk to the health and environment of neighboring communities as well as that of the general population.”
Cathy Corkery, Director of the New Hampshire Sierra Club, states the Wheelabrator permit under consideration does not look at alternatives to burning waste, alternatives which are less harmful to health and the environment and less costly in the long run. “We’ve got much better ideas such as reduce, reuse, recycle, and composting of our valuable resources.” Katie Lajoie, a registered nurse and member of the community group Working on Waste, agrees. “Incineration is unacceptable and unnecessary. DES needs to deny Wheelabrator’s permit and commit to a transition plan that closes the Concord incinerator and replaces it with programs that maximize conservation, reuse, and recycling. This would be beneficial to the residents of the City of Concord, surrounding communities and to the State as a whole.”
John Tuthill, a former member of the Sullivan County Regional Refuse Disposal District and the NH/VT Solid Waste Project, points out that the new permit does not address Wheelabrator’s failure to disclose years of burning tens of thousands of contaminated filters from the incinerator’s own pollution control equipment. “This was a serious breach of trust with the public and the regulator and reason alone to deny the permit.” Mr. Tuthill is also with Working on Waste.
To add to the concern, Wheelabrator is planning to burn construction and demolition (C&D) wood, a controversial fuel source that until last year was banned from the Concord incinerator. “We know that burning C&D is a terrible idea,” said Jackie Elliot from Citizens Leading for Environment Action & Responsibility, referencing the fact that in 2016 the NH Legislature undid a ten-year prohibition on burning C&D and passed a law that would allow incineration of processed C&D wood at the Wheelabrator incinerator. “Wheelabrator’s new permit does not address the potential impacts of burning treated wood products and other contaminants found in demolition debris. This omission sidesteps a formal public discussion of why burning C&D waste at the Wheelabrator incinerator is not in the public’s interest.” According to Mr. Tuthill, “Wheelabrator’s plan to burn C&D is one of many reasons why DES should deny the Title V permit. C&D is a problematic fuel and will adversely impact already toxic air emissions and ash from the Concord incinerator.”
Title V (five) refers to a Federal permitting program under the Clean Air Act. In New Hampshire, DES administers the Title V program on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Wheelabrator is required to have a Title V permit because the incinerator is a major pollution source under Federal and State law. Wheelabrator’s present Title V air permit expired in 2014, and for three years the incinerator has been operating under what DES calls an “application shield.” This is a provisional permit that allowed Wheelabrator to skirt the regulatory review that DES was supposed to have done in 2014.
Public Hearing Tuesday, November 7th at 6 PM Department of Environmental Services, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord