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CG Health Dept. tells ZBA “proceed with caution” on CES permit

The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health (CGCDPH) said in a letter dated December 14th, 2011, that it “strongly recommends” testing, “air modeling” and other measures be undertaken before granting a conditional use permit to Creative Energy Systems (CES).

CES wants to build a $35 million waste to energy plant on Mason City’s south side, which would operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and utilize about 250 tons of trash each day.

One of the “hurdles” that CES must overcome before they can build their plant is obtaining a conditional use permit from the Mason City Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) (pictured).  They need a conditional use permit because there is no zoning in Mason City that allows for the type of operation they are proposing to build.

CES’s application to the ZBA has been left off of one agenda by city staff and postponed twice by the board due to a lack of information needed to make a decision.  The latest postponement by the ZBA was made in order to query the CGCDPH for information on the possible health ramifications the plant’s emissions would have on citizens.  There are serious health concerns expressed by the public and even some ZBA board members due to the proximity of the plant’s location to Newman Daycare and schools.  No one knows what, if any, the emissions from the plant would be, since, as the CGCDPH letter states, “this specific technology is untested.”

Now, in a letter dated December 14, 2011 the Cerro Gordo County Department of Health is calling for yet more information to be collected before making a decision on a conditional use permit.

“It is increasingly important that additional environmental data be collected that will support the claims made by the company (CES) about the environmental and public health protections,” the letter states.

“The Department strongly encourages the ZBA to proceed with caution by requiring… testing the waste… and air modeling.”

The  CGCDPH letter also tells the ZBA board that “a facility is only as good as the responsible operator, their financial responsibility, the technology used to manage the hazards, and the enforcement agency responsible for compliance.  If one of these links breaks down, there is potential for significant public health impacts.”

The ZBA board will be meeting Tuesday afternoon at 4 pm at City Hall and could vote on the conditional use permit at that time.

Read the entire CGCDPH letter to the ZBA.


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