Say NO to toxic incineration

Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield is a grassroots organization dedicated to stopping a proposed biomass incinerator in Springfield MA.

The following groups have joined Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield to oppose this incinerator: Chicopee City Council, Ludlow Board of Selectmen, Massachusetts Medical Society, Hampden District Medical Society, American Lung Association, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition, Toxics Action Center, Arise for Social Justice, Greater Springfield chapter of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Western Massachusetts American Friends Service Committee, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Conservation Law Foundation, Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance, Massachusetts Sierra Club, The McKnight Neighborhood Youth Council, East Forest Park Civic Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Pioneer Valley, Masschusetts Forest Watch, Bay Area Neighborhood Council, Indian Orchard Citizens Council, Maple High/Six Corners NC, East Forest Park Civic Association, East Springfield Neighborhood Council, McKnight Neighborhood Council, West Springfield Town Council.

 

Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield response to State issuing PRE Air Permit

October 11th 2012
We understand that there is some confusion about the state issuing an air permit to Palmer Renewable Energy for its biomass incinerator and want to assure you that PRE cannot build its biomass incinerator in Springfield - despite the state's action. This would have been the case if Springfield had granted the developer the special permit it needed but Springfield did not, and without this special permit from the city, the state's air permit is meaningless. Because you voiced your opposition to city councilors, and because these city councilors worked courageously and tirelessly to represent you, the air permit issued by the state doesn't do a thing. The state can roll out the red carpet for more pollution in Springfield but since Springfield sayed no, the door is closed. We want to thank everyone who took the time to learn about this project and call their councilors. Being involved really does make a difference!

As you may have heard, CLF joined with Arise for Social Justice and over a dozen individual residents today to file a new lawsuit in Hampden County Superior Court seeking to overturn a state permit that would allow the Palmer Renewable Energy (PRE) biomass power plant to emit harmful air pollution. CLF and Arise issued this statement, which can be found here online.

 

Regulations raise bar on efficiency

April 28th 2012
Power plants that produce electricity by burning wood will have to become significantly more efficient to receive state subsidies under long-anticipated regulations released Friday, jeopardizing new projects and making it difficult for existing plants to continue operating.

Click here to read more of this Boston Globe Article

At the hearing, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will let you know that they have tightened the technology for this biomass incinerator to emit less pollution.  They will tell you that 99.9% of the particulate matter will be filtered out and that other pollutant emissions have been reduced. Although this could be true, you must remember that this incinerator will still be emitting over 50 hazardous pollutants into our already polluted air. From the DEP draft air permit, PRE's incinerator will emit over 37 tons per year nitrogen dioxide, over 81 tons per year carbon monoxide, over 26 tons per year sulfur dioxide, over 22 tons per year volatile organic compounds, over 13 tons ammonia, over 89 pounds per year lead, and over 42 tons per year PM2.5, the very fine particulate matter with the worst effects on health.  Particulate matter 2.5 is now directly linked to not only asthma and respiratory disease (Springfield's rate is already twice the state average!) but also heart attacks and diabetes.  In addition, this incinerator will also emit approximately 500,000 tons per year carbon dioxide which will result in increased global warming.

Please tell DEP that Springfield's air must be cleaned up immediately and no more pollution is acceptable.  DEP's own data already show excessive levels of toxic contaminants that are harmful to human health in the air now - before this plant is even built - and DEP does not even know the sources.   From DEP's own monitors, arsenic levels are at 535% allowable ambient level (AAL), cadmium is at 810% AAL, formaldehyde is at 2688% AAL, acetaldehyde is at 246% AAL, benzene is at 718% AAL and ethylbenzene is at 94% AAL.  Springfield clearly has a problem that must be remedied, and the remedy is not more pollution. 

Together we have made a difference.  With a strong showing at this hearing, we can show not only the state but also the city of Springfield - which can still choose to revoke or modify the developers special permit - that this incinerator cannot happen.  Please forward this to your friends, co-workers and neighbors and plan to pack the hearing!

 


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The Project: Palmer Renewable Energy proposes to build a 35-megawatt power-generating incinerator at 1000 Page Boulevard, Springfield. Each day, over 1000 tons of the wood will be burned, generating only 1/3 of 1% of Massachusetts' total power production.

Health Issues: The incinerator will emit 44.6 tons of fine particulate matter, including something refered to as PM 2.5. These particles are so small that they are invisible and only seen as a haze. Ther are small enough to go into the deepest part of your lungs and are known to cause respiratory illness such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and now strong evidence linking PM 2.5 to type 2 diabetes. See our Health Impacts page for more information.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, an organization representing 20,000 Massachusetts physicians, has voiced their opposition to biomass incineration in general. In the first paragraph of their press release they state:
"On the grounds that biomass power plants pose an unacceptable risk to the public's health by increasing air pollution, the Massachusetts Medical Society has adopted a policy opposing three currently proposed large-scale biomass power plants in Massachusetts and urging state government to adopt policies to minimize the approval and construction of new biomass plants."
Click here to read the letter (opens in Microsoft Word).

The Hampden District Medical Society voted unanimously to formally oppose this plant because it presents "an unacceptable public health risk."
Click here to read the letter (opens in Microsoft Word).  

The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition is formally opposed to this incinerator because "Springfield is a designated environmental justice community and its poor air quality has already been linked to these high asthma rates. This plant will place community members at even higher risk."
Click here to read the letter (opens in Microsoft Word).  

The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is also formally opposed to this plant as stated in their letter:
"The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is the largest breast cancer organization in the state representing over 10,000 members. MBCC is dedicated to challenging all obstacles to the eradication of breast cancer. In particular, MBCC is concerned about the link between environmental toxins and the extremely high rate of breast cancer in the state and as a result, is in opposition to the burning of construction and demolition debris at the proposed Palmer Renewable Energy biomass plant."
You can read the whole letter by clicking this link (opens in Microsoft Word).

The Physicians for Social Responsibility/Pioneer Valley oppose construction of incinerators in the valley.
"It is the finding of the Physicians for Social Responsibility that the biomass power plants being proposed for
several Pioneer Valley locations would contribute to particulate air pollution emissions in a region that already
has pollution problems, and therefore we oppose the construction and operation of such plants."
To read the entire press release, click here.

Springfield air quality already receives a failing grade from the American Lung Association on many days of the year. American Lung Association of Massachusetts opposes this incinerator and explains why in a recent press release:
"For years, the ALAMA has viewed biomass burning as a significant source of air pollution. We believe that the plants proposed in Massachusetts will create an unnecessary risk to both our state's health and air quality and are particularly concerned by inefficient and dirty sources of power located in communities that already suffer from poor air quality and high asthma rates."
You can read the whole press release by clicking this link (opens in Microsoft Word).


Hampden County is already overburdened with lead pollution. According to the latest EPA figures, Hampden County sources emit 10,461 pounds of lead per year, which is 25% of the state's total.  

EPA lead chart

Click here for the source

Effects on Our Children: Researchers for the first time have linked air-pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm the developing brain. Click here to read the study.

The state asthma rate for children continues to climb and is now at 10%, but the Springfield rate is more than 16%! In addition to the emissions from the incinerator, there would be the added exhaust fumes from upwards of 140 truck trips a day. There are 55 schools within a five mile radius of the proposed toxic incinerator. A new study shows that children who breathe traffic-related air pollution at school are more likely to develop asthma, even after taking into account levels of air pollution at their homes. Click here to read the study.

 

Schools within a five mile radius of the proposed PRE incinerator
Reduced image size. Click Image to view original version in PDF file.

Fallout region with area schools

Reduced image size. Image links to original version in PDF file.


 

Environmental Issues: Burning wood releases 50% more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than a coal fired plant.

Carbon dioxide emissions from this incinerator are exempt from regulations.

"The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. Global warming is caused by releasing what are called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil and that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as we know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world."

Click here to view the source on 350.org and to learn more about how adding more corbon dioxide to the atmosphere could be disastrous!

 


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