Mike Dobbs, managing editor for the Reminder, has added his voice to the chorus of Springfield residents opposed to a wood-burning biomass plant proposed for Page Boulevard.
The Mass Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on the project on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 pm. at Kennedy Middle School, 1385 Berkshire Ave.
“Could someone please explain to me why putting a biomass plant that burns construction and demolition waste in the middle of a residential area is a good idea?” Dobbs lead off last week's opinion column, about Palmer Renewable Energy’s plan to open the $150 million plant by 2011. The company describes the project as an eco-friendly effort that would rely on renewable resources and keep waste (including C&D waste) from landfills. The plant is expected to create 50 jobs. Opponents, organized as Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield and backed by a number of public health and social justice groups, warn the burning would emit dangerous toxins that would pose grave health risks throughout the Valley.
Dobbs had strong words for the various public officials who back the plan, including Mayor Domenic Sarno, the (now departed) Finance Control Board, and the City Council, which has already approved a special permit for the plant. (The only two councilors who opposed the permit—Pat Markey and Rosemarie Mazza Moriarty—both opted not to run for re-election this fall, although John Lysak, Ward 8’s councilor-elect, has emerged as a strong opponent of the project.)
Gov. Deval Patrick also got a strong slap from Dobbs, who suggested the project is just another case of far-away Boston dumping on Springfield: “Governor, if putting a waste-burning biomass in an urban area is such a good idea, then why isn't your administration advocating one for Boston? Nope, that wouldn't be prudent in an upcoming election year. Let's allow it for Springfield, which is well out of harm's way.
“And by the way, gentle readers, this just isn't a Springfield issue. If you don't think the emissions from this plant aren't going to have an impact on the air you breathe, you're wrong,” Dobbs added.
Activist Michaelann Bewsee, meanwhile, recently weighed in on her blog with “Seven reasons to oppose a toxic incinerator in Springfield.”
On an unrelated but irresistible note, Bewsee also recently suggested a fitting punishment for former Friends of the Homeless director Frankie Keough, who was recently arrested in Rhode Island for allegedly stealing furniture for his former beach house. That beach house had been taken by the federal government following Keough’s earlier convictions on a range of charges, including stealing items meant for the shelter.
“Some readers of this blog know I'm not a big fan of prison, especially for non-violent crimes. Frank's crimes, of course, certainly did violence to the homeless and the residents of Springfield. But what should we do with him now?” Bewsee wrote.
“I'd like to urge those in charge to turn him over to a local non-profit. We'll put him to work. He could serve meals at Loaves and Fishes. He could clean the toilets at Worthington St. Shelter. He could stand on the corner of State and Main with a sign announcing himself as a thief and a fool. And at night he could sleep on City Hall steps, where he once ‘served’ as city councilor. Come on, Frank, we'll find a use for you.”