Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Summary of HCC's January 22nd Meeting

Summary of the meeting from Bill Lippincott:

Hello all,
We had a good Hampden Citizen's meeting last Thursday. We decided we need to know more about the Fiberight project. In theory it's not the worst way to treat waste - if it actually works the way
they say it will. But it would make more sense to remove as much of the organic material, esp. food waste from institutional cafeterias, restaurants, supermarkets, etc as possible before it gets mixed in with MSW. Which would take away what looks to me like the largest source for Fiberight's proposed bio-fuel. Fiberight takes messy waste and then tries to create a fuel from the organic material. They run the MSW through water; the water gets reused for further processing. It struck me that the water
would get pretty nasty after a few hundred cycles (if not by the 2nd or third time through some MSW).

The Fiberight site is much nearer to local neighborhoods than I was led to believe, in particular to Maine Trail and Ruth Ave; we had two people from that neighborhood that came to the meeting and were very concerned about odor, truck traffic, property values and what this plant represents for Hampden's future as a place to live and as a place to locate a business.
We want to know more about the possibility of continuing with a downscaled PERC plant, and Laura has put me in touch with Rod Carr, who represents PERC. Norm and I would like to meet with him, and with Greg Lounder to find out more about the future of PERC and the viability of Fiberight.
I am not a big fan of PERC from my current knowledge of its operations:
When I took a tour of PERC several years ago, my observation of its waste sorting process, which is initially done with a bucket loader- was that it was as primitive, if not more primitive as what I've seen on the Fiberight video.
In order to have enough waste to justify keeping the plant running, PERC brings in a large volume of out-of-state waste. The Fiberight plant would bring in none, according to MRC's information.
Unlike the proposed Fiberight plant, PERC incinerates trash, has smokestacks and air emissions. I'm concerned about the burning of plastics, polyvinyl chloride and other material in waste and the release of dioxin and other toxins into our air and water. In the past, (presently?) towns were penalized if they didn't deliver an agreed upon volume of MSW to PERC. So there was a disincentive to recycle. Fiberight claims they can downsize according to the volume of trash that comes in and has no minimum requirement for volume.

There's no longer a Federal subsidy for waste to energy plants like PERC. PERC has never been a very efficient, cost effective way to generate electricity, and a year ago in Augusta PERC was claiming a dire situation if the state somehow didn't step in and help subsidize PERC's operation – which the legislature declined to do. Electric rates are about to drop dramatically. So I question the financial viability of PERC to continue.

There are an equal number of questions about Fiberight, many of which were set out in the email I sent out about the meeting (will relist below). In addition, given the fact that Fiberight appears to be
having some trouble with financing, and they've yet to break ground on their first actual full size plant, and the technology is unproven on the scale they propose, it's questionable as to whether they will have an up and running plant in Hampden, if that were approved, by 2018. If PERC is gone and Fiberight is not up and running, where will the MSW from all the towns that belong to the MRC go? Juniper Ridge is the obvious answer. But Juniper Ridge was not supposed to take raw MSW; the
state should not be landfilling MSW in this day and age, which aside from generating foul odors to neighboring residents and using up valuable, limited landfill space, is a major generator of methane, the ungreen greenhouse gas.
Residents from Main Trail plan to alert their neighbors about the plan to locate Fiberight near their homes. Norm and I plan to meet with representatives of PERC and MRC to find out more about the two current alternatives.
That's where we are right now.

Bill Lippincott

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