Well, bless our breathing lungs… International Paper announced yesterday it is not only canceling the test burn of tire chips in its Ticonderoga, NY plant, it’s abandoning the idea altogether. No test. No tires. No pollution. No lung damage. Not now. Not ever.
Turns out they couldn’t burn anywhere near the amount of tire chips they wanted to without exceeding the pollution limits specified in their permit. They were hoping to send 3 tons of tires per hour up in really ugly smoke. But in burning even just a measly ¼ ton they started bumping up against their own safety threshold.
This is total vindication of the point of view that said that without pollution controls this is one really bad idea. And copious thanks are due to everyone who wrote, called, cajoled, begged, pleaded, urged, demanded, implored, and otherwise beseeched International Paper to knock it off and stop being so self-centered. Whether you’re from around here or not, we who are and would have been breathing this junk appreciate the help. Big time. Everybody enjoy a clean lungful of fresh air on me.
That said, as People for Less Pollution have suggested, a simple crunching of the numbers offers some grim harbingers for the plant’s future. Int. Paper had hoped to save $4 million per year on fuel costs by burning tires. The pollution controls needed to make that burning safe would have cost (at most) $10 million, and that’s without the finanical assistance the State of Vermont offered. So at the high end, you’ve got payback on your public health investment in less than three years. Most likely much sooner. Given all the PR headaches this tire imbroglio caused and given the gi-nourmous profits Int. Paper enjoys, installing a dinky little $10 million electrostatic precipitator seems like a no-brainer. That they didn’t tells me and a whole bunch of others that the company doesn’t plan on keeping this plant open much longer. They were just trying to save a few buck until closing time. And they were willing to do it at the expense of Vermonters’ health. I fairly certain I’ll remember that next time I need a paper product that Seventh doesn’t sell…