Monday, December 13, 2010

Selling and burning trash: Who will profit, who will pay?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 1:58 PM

An example of RDF Pellets
  • An example of RDF Pellets

You may or may not remember this, but it took a great deal of time, effort and contention to get Charlotte-Mecklenburg's 2009-2019 Waste Management Plan — which effects Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville — approved. Now that it's approved, it is, apparently, easy to alter.

Case in point: Tonight, the Charlotte City Council will decide whether or not to amend the waste management plan allowing the owners of the proposed ReVenture Park to turn our trash into something called "RDF," which they plan to both burn in their proposed incinerator and sell to other municipalities and energy companies so they, too, can burn our trash.

RDF is an acronym for "refuse-derived fuel." In other words, it's trash that's mushed into pellets and burned to create electricity.

The pellets are supposed to be plastic-free, but the pellets I've been allowed to inspect clearly had plastic in them — and lots of it. This is a problem because burning plastic is horrible for our air quality and our health. Why? Because burning plastic can release cadmium, lead, and chemicals like benzene, dioxins, furans and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. As you might suspect, none of these are things you would want to breathe.

Beyond the question of burning trash, we need to look at the deals behind this deal:

  1. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is also considering amending the Waste Management Plan to sell ReVenture our trash for the next 20 years, at a dollar less per ton than it sells it to our current landfill vendor.
  2. Part of the original deal was that ReVenture would conduct a land-swap with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The company was going to get a hunk of land at the old Statesville Avenue Landfill, where they promised to mine our old trash and create much-needed jobs for the community.
  3. In return, Char-Meck would receive a hunk of land near the Catawba River where it intends to build a new waste water treatment plant. That deal, however, is now off the table and our local government is considering paying ReVenture more than $6 million for the river-front property where they already have waste water infrastructure in place.
  4. At no time have I heard anyone discuss the citizens of Char-Meck receiving any type of financial kickback. What will happen, instead, is we'll pay $25 per ton to have ReVenture sort through our trash so it can make RDF pellets — which they'll either burn or sell. In addition to selling or burning our trash, they'll also sell us the electricity generated from burning our trash, the waste ash left over after burning our trash and any recycleables they harvest from it. In other words, ReVenture stands to make millions, if not billions, of dollars off of the trash we will pay them to haul away.

And that's just skimming the surface of this important deal that's sailing through both local and state governments. That's why we're tagging anything related to the ReVenture Park project as urgent news to watch.

Further reading:

House panel gives extra energy credits to ReVenture ParkThe Charlotte Observer

Forsite picks ReVenture Park incinerator technologyThe Mecklenburg Times

The Risks of Incinerators, A Science Based Analysis — Incinerator-Free Mecklenburg

Trash-To-Energy Plant Moving Ahead In Meck Co — WFAE

Crucial Council Vote Tonight On Trash-To-Electricity Plan — WFAE

ReVenture plant close to financing deal — the Charlotte Business Journal

Here's some more information on one of the potential pollutants — dioxin — released when plastic is burned from Dr. Linda Birnbaum, a former EPA Toxicology Division director and current director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

The pellets are supposed to be plastic-free, but the pellets I've been allowed to inspect clearly had plastic in them — and lots of it. This is a problem because burning plastic is horrible for our air quality and our health. Why? Because burning plastic can release cadmium, lead, and chemicals like benzene, dioxins, furans and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. As you might suspect, none of these are things you would want to breathe.

Beyond the question of burning trash, we need to look at the deals behind this deal:

  1. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is also considering amending the Waste Management Plan to sell ReVenture our trash for the next 20 years, at a dollar less per ton than it sells it to our current landfill vendor.
  2. Part of the original deal was that ReVenture would conduct a land-swap with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The company was going to get a hunk of land at the old Statesville Avenue Landfill, where they promised to mine our old trash and create much-needed jobs for the community.
  3. In return, Char-Meck would receive a hunk of land near the Catawba River where it intends to build a new waste water treatment plant. That deal, however, is now off the table and our local government is considering paying ReVenture more than $6 million for the river-front property where they already have waste water infrastructure in place.
  4. At no time have I heard anyone discuss the citizens of Char-Meck receiving any type of financial kickback. What will happen, instead, is we'll pay $25 per ton to have ReVenture sort through our trash so it can make RDF pellets — which they'll either burn or sell. In addition to selling or burning our trash, they'll also sell us the electricity generated from burning our trash, the waste ash left over after burning our trash and any recycleables they harvest from it. In other words, ReVenture stands to make millions, if not billions, of dollars off of the trash we will pay them to haul away.

And that's just skimming the surface of this important deal that's sailing through both local and state governments. That's why we're tagging anything related to the ReVenture Park project as urgent news to watch.

Further reading:

House panel gives extra energy credits to ReVenture ParkThe Charlotte Observer

Forsite picks ReVenture Park incinerator technologyThe Mecklenburg Times

The Risks of Incinerators, A Science Based Analysis — Incinerator-Free Mecklenburg

Trash-To-Energy Plant Moving Ahead In Meck Co — WFAE

Crucial Council Vote Tonight On Trash-To-Electricity Plan — WFAE

ReVenture plant close to financing deal — the Charlotte Business Journal

Here's some more information on one of the potential pollutants — dioxin — released when plastic is burned from Dr. Linda Birnbaum, a former EPA Toxicology Division director and current director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2018 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation