6:30 PM, 27 April 2010We’ve been waiting on this date for a while. EPD is going to send a press release to the VDT a few weeks in advance and post it on its own website, www.georgiaair.org. Assuming, of course, that the date and place don’t change again.
Valdosta City Hall Annex
300 North Lee Street
Why should you care? This plant proposes to burn sewage sludge, which can release numerous hazardous chemicals into the air. Here is Seth’s letter to the editor of the VDT of 21 Feb 2010:
Toxic chemicalsAfter reading the list of toxic chemicals Wiregrass Power LLC plans to emit into our community’s air, which it listed in its Air Permit Application, I am convinced that citizens of Lowndes County should be greatly concerned. The company plans to burn over 3,000 tons of sewage sludge, a combination of human waste, household chemicals, leaked automotive fluids, and industrial wastes, in its proposed biomass power plant.
The National Lung Association’s recent State of the Air report draws clear connections between lung and heart disease, asthma, and the air emissions from biomass power plants. As a result of this and similar studies, the Florida and Massachusetts Medical Associations have passed resolutions calling on governments to stop all new biomass power plant construction. Let me be clear: the emissions from the proposed Wiregrass Biomass Plant will increase rates of heart and lung disease in Valdosta and surrounding areas, and will ultimately shorten the lifespan of some members of our community. I hope that our elected officials will stand up for local families in upcoming EPD hearings, and will support a healthy and clean economy rooted in energy efficiency and real renewable energy.
The only thing I can find on the Industrial Authority’s website about this plant is press release from the governor of last September. That letter confirms that the plant is supposed to burn sewage sludge. It does not say anything about emissions.
We’re all for jobs, but this plant will only create 25 long-term jobs, at the price of apparently endangering the health of far more people. We could do better, for example by encouraging solar energy production, like Texas or Florida. If even Germany can do it, located much farther north, we can do it in south Georgia. Yes, I know Wiregrass LLC proposes to build a token solar installation in addition to the biomass plant, but why not just go straight for solar?
If the point is to support Georgia’s forestry industry, there’s a much more direct path: reforestation, which creates more than twice as many jobs as biomass (and nine times as many as nuclear). Reforestation would build on the existing Conservation Reserve Program for planting new longleaf pines, by turning them into longterm forests. And that would provide sustainable logging for the forestry industry.
If the point is jobs, how about support retraining of ex-prisoners and reintegration of them into the economy.
Any or all of these things would be better in the long run.