Pharos-Tribune

June 27, 2013

Energy, economics panel questions Pyrolyzer

Incineration, garbage, liability up for discussion.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Experts in the fields of energy, environmental science and economics spoke at a question-and-answer session at the McHale Performing Arts Center Wednesday night to discuss Logansport’s power plant project currently in negotiations with Pyrolyzer LLC.

The panel was made up of Morton Marcus, retired director of the Indiana Business Research Center; Bradley Angel, executive director of San Francisco-based Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice; and Mike Ewall, founder and director of Philadelphia-based Energy Justice Network.

In an interview before the Q-and-A, the panel discussed concerns they have over the Pyrolyzer proposal regarding city-hired consultants’ and Pyrolyzer’s claims about the project and questions they feel should be answered before future action is taken.

Regarding an ongoing debate as to whether or not the proposed plant should be considered incineration, the panelists said consultants and city officials have misled the public when stating the proposed plant’s process, called pyrolysis, can’t be considered incineration because of its absence of oxygen.

“Oxygen is in the waste to begin with,” Ewall said, referring to the gas analysis from Pyrolyzer’s proposal.

While the analysis reads that no oxygen exists within Pyrolyzer’s gas composition created by the refuse-derived fuel, it shows volumes for both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which both contain oxygen.

Ewall goes on to say this amount of oxygen is “more than enough to create dioxins,” a potentially harmful chemical, which has also been a great source of debate surrounding the project.

The proposed plant’s fuel, which those involved in the project say will arrive mostly by rail, raised concerns as well. The panelists questioned what the consequences would be should the plant break down temporarily or fail completely while contracts continued to force feedstock to be shipped to the plant.

“You could be left with mountains of garbage,” Angel said.

Marcus questioned what kind of liability would be written into the contracts for the ratepayers and the city.

“There’s no idea until contracts are done,” he said. “What’s lacking here is any degree of transparency.”

Pyrolyzer’s brief history, that it has only developed or is in the process of developing a handful of plants minuscule in size when compared to the one proposed for Logansport and lack of emissions data were all further factors the panelists said should cause alarm bells to ring for citizens and city officials.

“They’re not asking questions I noticed in a matter of minutes,” Angel said.