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Editorial: CES submitting info to city leaders ahead of meeting

(by JoAnn Hardy of Mason City)

To the editor:

CES has been submitting documents to the city in an attempt to convince our decision-makers that their process is safe and/or has been tested elsewhere.

One document is an Environmental Assessment done by the Department of Energy related to the Oneida facility that is proposed for Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mr. Yavorski continually makes reference to this facility (not built) because it will use the same pyrolysis units as proposed for Mason City. I was sent 5 documents by people in Green Bay that refute the information in that DOE report. The DOE document does not say where and when the “testing” in their study took place, or the type and quantity of the waste tested, or how the results were evaluated. The study lists 87 waste to energy facilities operating in the U.S. that are not in any way associated with pyrolysis or gasification. The only pyrolysis plant listed was a small demonstration project in Romoland, California that never was fully permitted and was plagued with problems and was decommissioned. There should have been an Environmental Impact Statement done on the Oneida plant, which is much more detailed and specific to the project, because this is a new and unproven technology.

CES is not required by the government to do an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement for the plant proposed for Mason City because CES is not asking for federal dollars for this project. There are millions of dollars available for projects like this one, but CES avoids the scrutiny if they don’t ask for the money.

The Oneida plant proposed for Green Bay, plans to receive 313 tons of municipal solid waste per day (5 days a week) and sort it down to 210 tons (remove things that won’t gasify and things to recycle) and then burn 150 tons per day (7 days a week) to produce 4.62 megawatts per hour (MWH) of power. The CES project here proposes to receive 240 tons of garbage per day and produce 13 MWH of power (3 to use to run the plant and 10 to sell to Alliant). Huge difference!! How does CES get so much more energy from basically the same amount of garbage (or less) and using the same pyrolysis machines??? Is the CES plant proposed for Mason City mostly a tire burning facility??? The Oneida plant plans to hire up to 20 employees—CES is planning to hire 55. The Oneida plant expects up to 24 trucks to enter their facility per day. CES plans for 100-120 to enter the facility proposed for Mason City.

CES presented a document about a manure pyrolysis facility in California as proof this plant could be permitted. I’m not sure what that has to do with the proposed Mason City municipal solid waste (MSW) facility. Manure is a predictable feedstock to use in the facility. MSW is not. MSW is much more variable and difficult to work with safely.

CES presented a document written by Sigma about the Oneida facility. Sigma was hired by Oneida to evaluate and help promote their planned facility in Green Bay. There are problems with the document. Sigma took some MSW to a 12 ton per day test facility in Rosamond, California to process it. The document claims success, but for the emissions evaluation to be valid, the report would need to list specifics about what was gasified. They did not. Feedstock is a huge variable in the emissions.

The document includes a short list of pyrolysis facilities, but Sigma states they did not verify the operating record of the facilities. I can confirm they did not verify the list. I called to get information about plants in the U.S. that are doing tire pyrolysis. There were no plants listed in the U.S. do pyrolysis with MSW.

I called some tire recyclers in Tacoma to find out what they know about a tire pyrolysis facility listed in the document. They had not heard of such a facility. I called the Tacoma Solid Waste Agency to find out what they know about the tire recycler/pyrolysis processor in Tacoma. The manager there had not heard of such a facility. He said there used to be a small demonstration project in a nearby town. It has closed. Possibly that was the reference.

The Sigma document lists a tire pyrolysis facility in Boardman, Oregon that Sigma states has been processing 60 tons of tires a day since 2008. I called. No one answers the phone. I left messages. No one calls back. I called the “home office” in Seattle and was told by a young woman working there that she is the only one working there and she is new and is unable answer any questions about the plant. I talked to the Port Authority near Boardman. The Boardman facility is located near the Port Authority. The woman who answered the phone said the plant construction may have been finished in 2008, but it has had continuing problems with equipment failures and mechanical difficulties and then it was sold to a new owner. She said they are still testing the technology and it operates occasionally.

I can be all for new ideas and new technology, if it does not present a risk to health and safety. We don’t know with this CES plant. There is not actual data. I request that the Zoning Board of Adjustment ask CES for actual testing data related to the plant proposed for Mason City and with the assistance of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Natural Resources, evaluate the data related to the health and safety of the citizens of Mason City.

JoAnn Hardy

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