The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 27, 2013

Scientist: Nix energy plant's emission data

LEWISBURG -  A New York state professor who specializes in environmental and atmospheric chemistry has asked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to reject the plan application for a proposed tire-derived fuel plant in Union County, based upon potential health effects she found in studying a similar plant in Crawford County.

“I went at this from the standpoint of a scientist,” said Sherri Mason, associate professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Mason also has worked with opponents of the Crawford Renewable Energy in Meadville, who are appealing DEP’s approval of that plant.

In Crawford’s case, opponents are concerned about the “validity of the proposed and approved emissions factors” in the Meadville operation’s application, Mason said in her 12-page letter dated Dec. 4 to DEP.

The $30 million White Deer Energy Project is using the same emissions factors in its application.

Organizations United for the Environment, known opponents of the White Deer Project, provided a copy of the letter to The Daily Item.

As she sees it, Mason said the main issue with the White Deer Energy Project is its numbers are based on those of the Crawford facility, a $350 million tire-derived-fuel power plant that DEP approved for construction in October 2011.

Mason said she spent months in discovery studying Crawford’s figures, which she also found flawed because the emissions sources are not the same. She questioned the figures’ validity and also DEP’s vetting of the figures.

“CRE bases its information on coal-fired power plants,” she said, “and you cannot say the emissions are the same, especially in regard to hazardous air pollutants.”

In her letter, Mason said peer-reviewed scientific studies of tire-derived fuel as an energy source indicates lower emission levels of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide, but greater emissions of metals, metalloids, halogens and other hazardous air pollutants.

The proposed hazardous air pollutants emissions in the application do not reflect these scientific studies, Mason writes, instead using literature based upon different fuel sources, namely coal or a coal and tire-derived fuel blend.

DEP spokesman Daniel Spadoni confirmed the agency received Morgan’s letter and that the Air Quality Program is reviewing it along with other comments DEP has received since the White Deer Energy project plan was submitted.

Air Quality staff also is reviewing the White Deer Energy project’s response to DEP’s technical deficiency letter, Spadoni said, adding the department cannot speculate on when this review will be finished.

Mason said from a scientific standpoint, she already was looking at potential hazards identified as carcinogens but that she also discovered some known endocrine obstructers, which act as hormones in very small amounts in the body.

“The overriding argument is we’re not releasing that much,” she said. “But as a scientist, you understand how little it takes to have an impact on living organisms in the environment. To say that doesn’t make me, as a scientist, feel any better.”

OUE President David Laidacker called Mason “a respected atmospheric chemist” and said the group’s next step will be to continue to inform regional residents of Mason’s findings and urge them to send letters to DEP if they are concerned about the incinerator.

 

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