by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
LOGANSPORT — CORRECTION Nov. 15, 2013: This story was updated to reflect that the presentation was by one doctor and not a panel of doctors.
A doctor will discuss Logansport’s proposed power plant project at Logansport Memorial Hospital Tuesday.
The proposed plant, currently under negotiation between the city and Boca Raton, Fla.-based Pyrolyzer LLC, would use a process called pyrolysis to heat refuse-derived-fuel and combust the gas produced from it to power turbines and create electricity.
The event Tuesday is being organized by Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, or CARE. The group organized a panel of three men in the fields of environmental activism and business earlier this summer that brought out more than 170 attendees.
Logansport citizen Mercedes Brugh, a member of the group, proposed an ordinance to Cass County commissioners last month that would establish limits on new large incineration plants in the county.
At a Cass County commissioners meeting Sept. 16, Commissioner Jim Sailors said he and the other commissioners were still considering the ordinance.
The event at the hospital will address how incineration can affect patient health and the proposed ordinance, a press release states.
Logansport officials in favor of the project and city-hired consultants denounce the term incineration in relation to the project, saying Pyrolyzer’s form of pyrolysis operates at too low of a temperature in the absence of oxygen to be considered incineration.
Brugh and others have contested these claims, saying that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, uses the terms combustion and incineration interchangeably and cites pyrolysis in its definition of combustion.
Logansport Municipal Utilities Superintendent Paul Hartman said in an interview he interprets incineration to mean “to burn to ashes,” which the proposed Pyrolyzer plant would not do.
Bernie Paul, president of Indianapolis-based B Paul Consulting LLC and a consultant assisting the city with acquiring air permits for the plant, has stated the gas created in the plant will go through a process that will remove dangerous chemicals and that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management must receive EPA approval before issuing permits for projects like the one being proposed for Logansport.
Brugh said in an interview she didn’t feel the EPA’s regulations were adequate enough.
”Ask anyone who lives on Race Street if they’re happy with the rules for the coal-fired plant,” she said, referring to the neighborhood near Logansport Municipal Utilities’ generating plant. “They have to contend with particulate matter, that’s obvious, but the rules are not adequate. What we’re proposing with this ordinance is a very modest baby step.”
Dr. Norma Kreilein of Daviess Community Hospital in Washington, Ind., will address the crowd at the event.
”It’s not sponsored by the hospital in any way,” Brugh said. “The doctors agreed to invite [Kreilein], it doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with her. It means they’re in for a good, scientific discussion.”
Kreilein has been involved in the opposition movement of a project aiming to convert a coal-fired generating plant in Jasper to one fueled by biomass. And while the technology proposed for this project is different from the kind being proposed for the Pyrolyzer plant in Logansport, she said her research into the matter has led to flaws “pervasive across the industry.”
She added her experience in Jasper would aid her in the discussion at the hospital Tuesday.
“This was basically an unbelievably divisive and damaging event in our community,” she said. “My hope is that that does not happen in Logansport because you can and should learn from other mistakes. The science that is used is vague, it’s not anything you can put your finger on and be in the same place when you come back to it. Physicians are excellent people to look into that because we’re used to handling very complicated problems that are essentially like knots that have to be untied.”
If you go: • WHAT: "Incineration; A Pediatrician's Perspective" discussion • WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday • WHERE: Logansport Memorial Hospital, 1101 Michigan Ave., Conference Rooms D and E • COST: Free