The Springfield Public Health Council will meet Wednesday evening to discuss a proposal to build a wood-burning power plant on Page Boulevard—and project opponents plan to show up to let the council members know that they don’t want it.
The $150 million plant is proposed by Palmer Renewable Energy, which hopes to open in 2011. The company says the plant would create 50 new jobs.
According to a plan submitted by Palmer Renewable to the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection, “The stoker boiler will burn a maximum of 432,226 tons per year of wood fuel, which will include green (virgin) wood chips and a monthly average of 700 tons per day or 255,500 tons per year of construction and demolition (C&D) derived wood fuel as its primary fuel.”
That use of C&D waste is especially worrisome to opponents, who say it would introduce dangerous toxins in the air, adversely affecting public health throughout the Pioneer Valley. “[C&D] wood isn’t ‘clean,’” the grassroots Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield says. “It’s sorted to remove painted and pressure-treated wood by visual inspection, then chipped for burning, but even careful sorting doesn’t remove all the wood that’s contaminated with arsenic, cadmium, dioxin, lead, furans and mercury, among other toxins. The toxins emitted are especially damaging to children and fetuses. The incinerator would also emit dangerous particulate pollution, and nitrogen oxides (NOx), one of the compounds that forms ground-level ozone. These pollutants cause asthma, heart attacks, and cancer.”
Palmer Renewable is developing the plant with Barletta Engineering under the name of Caletta Renewable Energy, based in Canton. That company’s website makes the pitch for projects such as Springfield’s: “Biomass renewable energy power plants, which convert biomass, wood and other organic resources into energy, are the most widely used renewable energy source worldwide and are the fourth largest global energy source after coal, oil and natural gas. They are attributed with the re-routing of materials from landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as a result saving valuable landfill space and slowing global warming and climate changes. For these reasons Caletta Renewable Energy is focused in particular on the development of biomass-generated power for electricity and heat.”
Project opponents will hold a press conference at 5:30, prior to the 6 p.m. start of the Nov. 18 Public Health Council meeting, at the Pine Point Citizens’ Council at 335 Berkshire Ave. Among those who’ll speak out against the project are representatives from the Toxics Action Center, Mass. Senior Action and the McKnight Neighborhood Council, as well as Ward 8’s newly elected city councilor, John Lysak.
At the meeting, opponents will ask members of the Public Health Council “to use their influence to convince Governor Patrick to protect the Springfield area and halt the permitting process for this toxic incinerator,” according to a press release.
The plant has already received a permit from the Springfield City Council. On Dec. 2, the Mass Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing (7 pm., at Kennedy Middle School, 1385 Berkshire Ave.) on the project.
For more information about the campaign against the plant, check out MichaelannLand, activist Michaelann Bewsee’s blog.