Tag Archives: springfield

[NEWS] Springfield, MA Mayor Urges Construction Of Biomass Facility

– by Paul Tuthill, August 23, 2016, WAMC

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Springfield, MA Mayor Dominick Sarno and biomass opponents (WAMC)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno Tuesday called for the long-delayed construction of a wood-burning power plant to move forward. Project opponents, who had a chance encounter with the mayor, say they are not giving up.

About two dozen people rallied in Court Square in downtown Springfield Tuesday afternoon to protest the decision by the city’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris not to hold a site assignment hearing for the biomass power plant that Palmer Renewable Energy proposes to build in East Springfield.

Lisa Torres, an organizer with Arise for Social Justice, said a local health board review is necessary to ascertain the impact the plant would have on Springfield’s already poor air quality and high rates of child asthma.

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[NEWS] Health Commissioner Will Not Block Springfield, MA Biomass Facility

– by Dan Glaun, August 18, 2016, Springfield Republican

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Opposition to Springfield, Massachusetts biomass proposal (Lucas Ropek)

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris will not initiate site assignment proceedings against the proposed East Springfield biomass plant, clearing a path for a project that has survived court challenges, city council opposition and protest from neighborhood organizers who describe the plant as a menace to public health.

Caulton-Harris wrote that opponents did not present convincing evidence that the plant would fail to meet EPA and MassDEP standards, and also that those standards are sufficient to protect residents.

“It is therefore decided that a site assignment hearing shall not be ordered for the project at this time,” Caulton-Harris wrote.

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[NEWS] Radioactive Waste Sent to Massachusetts Trash Incinerator

– by Peter Goonan, June 30, 2016, Springfield Republican

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Photo: Springfield Republican

Trash picked up in Sixteen Acres apparently included a small amount of “short-lived radioactive” waste of medical origin, triggering alarms at the Covanta trash incinerator at Bondi’s Island in Agawam on Wednesday, according to the city.

Marian Sullivan, communications director of the mayor’s office, said Thursday in a prepared statement that the waste was apparently brought in by a city trash truck from the curbside collection in Sixteen Acres.

This is not the first time radioactive materials have triggered alarms at the waste-to-energy plant. Each time there is an alarm activation, it costs the city an additional $2,000 in regulatory fees, Sullivan said. She urged residents to be careful in their disposal of waste.

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Stalled Springfield, MA Biomass Incinerator Gets Building Permit

– by Michaelann Bewsee, Arise for Social Justice

Funny how bad news can make you want to fight even harder for justice.

Remember the community’s fight to keep a biomass plant out of Springfield? Yesterday we found out that the Land Court granted Palmer Renewable Energy’s request to reinstate their building permit, undoing the Springfield Zoning Board’s decision that the building permit was invalid. That means that PRE gets its building permit back unless we and/or the City of Springfield can find a way to stop them.

How can we stop them? Stay tuned for more on that, but if you know Arise, and the coalition we formed, Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, then you should know by now that we don’t give up.

I’m still sorting out the legalities of the decision, but as I’m understanding it right now, the Court held that seeing as the City of Springfield didn’t require a special permit for other kinds of waste incineration, why start now? And the Court held that green wood chips are not waste, even though those wood chips will come from waste wood! Therefore, PRE’s Building Permit should be restored.

PRE’s intentions are to produce 35 megawatts of energy by burning waste wood. Some of you may remember that originally, PRE wanted to burn construction and demolition debris to produce energy, which would be very inexpensive for them, but the community uproar was so loud that the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) put a moratorium on all permits to burn construction and debris. That’s when PRE decided to burn waste wood instead. But of course waste wood still comes from trees—PRE has chosen to use the word “renewable” in its company’s name, but trees are not renewable [see factsheet here] in any time frame that makes sense when you consider the importance of trees capturing the carbon that is altering the climate of our planet.

With nearly one out of five kids in Springfield living (or dying) with asthma, we have come to the conclusion that burning anything to produce energy is a step in the wrong direction.

It’s an admitted fact that PRE’s incinerator will produce 13.2 TONS of gaseous Hazardous Air Pollutants and 13.4 TONS of gaseous ammonia—and yet, those amounts are within what DEP considers allowable to receive an air permit. We’re working with the Conservation Law Foundation to appeal the issuance of the air permit.

We’re also working with Alternatives for Communities and Environment to get Governor Patrick to issue an executive order on environmental justice that would be applicable to all state agencies, including DEP, MassDOT, and the Energy Facility Siting Board, agencies that make decisions daily that put communities like Springfield at risk of unnecessary exposure to environmental and public health threats.

Last but far from least, we’re organizing to get the City of Springfield to adopt a Climate Change Plan for our city. I think we in New England have been a little protected from the changes hitting some parts of our country—the flooding, the drought, the forest fires—but we won’t stay protected forever. There’s so much we can do to improve the environment in Springfield, to produce jobs, to lower energy costs for Springfield, to clean up our air—in other words, to get with the 21st century, which the other major cities in Massachusetts are already doing.

We’re taking a bus to New York City on September 21 to contribute to the People’s Climate March, and we don’t intend to have a single empty seat on the bus.

So back to Palmer Renewable Energy. The Land Court decision was not the one we expected or wanted to hear. But we have a number of tools in our toolbox. Stay tuned—and get in touch if you want to be part of the movement to protect our health and our environment!