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Op-ed: Pyrolisis plants failed (by Julianne Atkinson)

This news story was published on December 19, 2011.
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While there have been attempts to build pyrolysis plants to deal just with shredded tires, to our knowledge, all have failed.

— Tire Pyrolysis Facility Proposed for South Columbus – Marti Sinclair, Toxics Chair, Ohio Chapter, Sierra Club 12/03 –

“A Boardman tire recycling plant got $3.4 million even though, after more than two years, it has yet to recycle tires. Investors are suing founders of Reklaim Technologies, now known as McKinstry-Reklaim, alleging they were misled about the project’s solvency.”


“Sources as divergent as Friends of the Earth UK [4] and the U.S. Department of Energy [9] note that municipal solid waste poses particular challenges for pyrolysis and other types of gasification because the waste is highly heterogeneous and variable in composition, and has a variable and sometimes high moisture content. The municipal waste stream is also changing across time, e.g., as new additives are added to plastics, and as more and more products containing bioplastics [10] and engineered nanomaterials [11] enter the waste stream. — adding shredded tires to the waste stream makes things even more challenging.


Whereas: Incinerator emissions to air and ash contain over 35 metals. Several are known or suspected carcinogens.

Whereas: Toxic metals accumulate in the body with increasing age. Breathing in air containing toxic metals leads to bioaccumulation in the human body.

Whereas: Mercury is one of the most dangerous heavy metals. It is neurotoxic and has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, learning disabilities, hyperactivity  and reduced intelligence in children .

Whereas: Mercury is a vapor at incineration temperatures and cannot be completely removed from the exhaust gases by the filters. Incinerators have been a major source of mercury release into the environment.

Whereas: The Massachusetts Medical Society has called for a Zero Mercury Emissions strategy, including a moratorium on Waste Incinerators, to address the threats to public health.

Whereas: Inhalation of heavy metals such as nickel, beryllium, chromium, cadmium and arsenic increases the risk of lung cancer.

Whereas: Nitrogen dioxide, another pollutant produced by incinerators, has been associated with rises in hospital admissions with COPD10, asthma in children and in heart disease in those over age 65.

Whereas: Hundreds of chemical compounds called Organic Toxicants are released into the air from incinerators. They include a host of chemicals produced from the burning of plastic and similar substances and include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), brominated flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), Dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans (Furans). These substances accumulate in fatty tissue and remain active in living organisms and the environment for many years.

Whereas: They have been linked with early puberty12, endometriosis113, breast cancer13,14, reduced sperm counts15 and other disorders of male reproductive tissues16, testicular cancer17 and thyroid disruption18.

From: Marcy Pfeifer 1574 Ravine Drive Green Bay, WI 54313 page 11

Whereas: The Organochlorines in this group, which include Dioxins, Furans and PCBs, mostly the result of burning PVC products, are known toxins in very minute amounts.

Whereas: The American Pubic Health Association (APHA) concluded “virtually all organochlorines that have been studied exhibit at least one of a range of serious toxic effects, such as endocrine disruption, developmental impairment, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction and infertility, immunosuppression and cancer, often at extremely low doses.”

Whereas: Dioxins are the organochlorine compounds most associated with incinerators and inventories have consistently shown that incinerators are the major source of emissions of dioxins into the air.

Whereas: The National Institute of Environmental Health have looked for, but been unable to find, any safe threshold for the toxicity of Dioxin. At the lowest detectable concentrations it can induce target genes and activate a cascade of intracellular molecular effects and can promote pre-malignant liver tumors and disrupt hormones. Even doses as low as 2.5 parts per quadrillion can stop cultured cells from showing changes characteristic of immune responses24.

Whereas: The average newborn Dioxin intake for the first year, at current levels, has been calculated to pose a cancer risk to the average infant of 187 per million (187 times the acceptable level).

Whereas: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s and the state of Minnesota’s proposed hierarchy of waste management practices prefers garbage incineration over any kind of managed landfilling.

Whereas: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stated at the public meeting on October 14, 2010 that public health was not a consideration in developing the proposed solid waste management policy hierarchy.

Whereas: Almost half of municipal waste consists of paper, cardboard, fabrics, glass and metals – all of which could be recycled. Metals are becoming more valuable and are already being mined in dumps in parts of the world. About 32% consists of garden and food waste which could be composted. Emphasizing Source Reduction, by way of recycling and residential and municipal composting, could reduce the amount of solid waste to be potentially incinerated or landfilled by more than half.

Whereas: Burning garbage doesn’t make it disappear. Incineration (sometimes referred to as “waste-to-energy”) turns a solid waste problem into an air pollution problem, and creates a new waste disposal problem in the form of toxic ash and, often, contaminated water from cleaning the scrubbers that must be landfilled and will be considered highly toxic for a very long time.

Whereas: incineration, with its large appetite for highly burnable recyclable fuels, becomes instead a competitor with recycling and has become an obstacle to sound waste policy. This is in direct contradiction to the hierarchy of best waste management practices based on public and environmental health and, in effect, removes the motivation to re-use, compost and recycle.

Whereas: Many other countries have been able to achieve high rates of municipal waste diversion (recycling, re-use and composting) which demonstrates that diversion rates of at least 50-80% or more are realistic targets.

Whereas: MNA recognizes Registered Nurses as patient advocates and advocates for the health care needs of society at-large.

THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED: The Minnesota Nurses Association urges the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to put the health of public in the forefront when developing policies/best practices for waste management.

RESOLVED: MNA will send a letter of concern to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency asking for the proposed hierarchy of waste management practices to be altered to reflect the significant potential detrimental public health impact brought by the continued use of garbage incineration for waste management. MNA will also send letters of support to elected representatives or officials supporting waste management policies that protect the public health.

Julianne Atkinson

Clear Lake

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6 Responses to Op-ed: Pyrolisis plants failed (by Julianne Atkinson)

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 20, 2011 at 10:03 am

    A family member just finished a brief employment with the Harrisburg school system in December. You shouldn’t write a check you can’t cash. The sales pitch we’re given is so sensational! Were taking jobs from the North Iowa Landfill, relocating those jobs. Good paying jobs are at a computer screen in Colorado.

    Let’s take a ride down the bike path from big blue to Newman…Vi-cor, across from Coke…Thick smoke stink hangs in trees and burn whatever at weird hours so you cant see…Waste Managment trash containers north of Budwiser, across from Egg plant, summer stench. AGP, Graham. It’s a beautiful gateway to Mason City. Appealing to the nose as well as the eyes.

  2. Avatar

    Observer Reply Report comment

    December 20, 2011 at 1:34 am

    The main part of this letter Re: Nurses in Minnesota, while it is noble, has little bearing on what has been proposed here. They are talking it appears about mass burning or open incineration.

    The plant CES has proposed is NOT open or mass burning. It is a closed – oxygen starved environment with no open flame. The emissions from such an environment are completely different than what the Nurses speak about.

    Next time mam, use relevant information to the situation in Mason City. Providing incorrect information can be construed as reckless as well.

  3. Avatar

    Patriot Reply Report comment

    December 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Howie, this is the same old song and dance you use in every post. There are few jobs that would be created with this plant, in reality maybe 20 as I’m sure they are going to automate the sort line. This is an untested facility that can severly damage the enviroment and peoples health if something fails and in an experimental plant that is more likely then not to happen.

    People are not against jobs, bring in a decent operation and we would welcome it. Yes, it would be nice if Holcim started back up, we shall see what happens with that in the future.

    We simply do not wan’t to pollute our town or endanger residents and children by fast tracking in something with very few answers and a city council that is choosing to shove it down our throats even more so with thier gag order.

    Mason City is not the only community in this country that is loosing manufacturers, simply they are going overseas with there jobs. Spend some of your time and find an answer to that problem.

    Please give it a rest!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

      I’m with Patriot here Howie. How do you expect any of the citizens of Mason City to have professional credentials on the subject. CES perfectly stated the city was chosen for it’s political unstability.

      Why do you think property owners, tax payers, we want to let the amature politicians and a administrator with a teetering legacy, take risks with our town’s future? We have just renovated a beautiful piece of World famous architectural history in the downtown area and this is what a “professional” city administration is doing to follow that up?

  4. Avatar

    Howie Reply Report comment

    December 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    These two ladies have no professional credentials and are a couple of fear mongers with a lot of free time. Truth be told, every manufacturing business that comes to town will have emissions and apparently this crowd to deal with. Just imagine if someone were considering the purchase of Holcim to restart the plant, after reading this rediculous mess, do you think they would even risk it? Mason City has a history of manufacturing that is dying and you folks just don’t care what it is, how good the jobs are, or how many people are employed, you have no intention of allowing any emission producing manufacturer (all manufacturers) from starting in MC.

  5. Avatar

    betty Reply Report comment

    December 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    We owe a debt of gratitude to this person Julianne and the other op-ed people who researched this and wrote about their findings in a clear, concise way.
    The info is out there, we just needed some people to communicate it and help our city out. A heartfelt thank you for all the hours you spent on this and your love of this community. Mason City deserves better than to have some reckless city leaders (who seem to have an aversion to research)try to push to get this thing passed without proper review. It doesn’t set the stage for much future trust in their ability. The word is spreading because of diligent, caring citizens. Thank you to all for your contributions.