The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has given its tentative approval to a test burn of tire-derived fuel (TDF) at International Paper Co.'s Ticonderoga plant.
But state and federal officials in Vermont-just across Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga-reacted with consternation to the news. ``Officials in Vermont have said they will appeal, file injunctions, do anything they can to stop it,'' an International Paper (IP) spokeswoman said.
In late July, the DEC sent a draft permit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review, the spokeswoman said. The EPA has 45 days to review the permit, so IP expects to hear from the agency sometime during the first two weeks of September.
The EPA may approve or reject the permit without comment, ask for amendments to the permit or explain why it is rejecting it, according to the spokeswoman.
If the permit is approved, IP will need 15 to 30 days to prepare for the test burn, meaning that it would commence sometime in October, she said. The first week, the company will ramp up its TDF use in half-ton increments to a maximum of three tons per hour, then conduct a full round of testing the second week. In the third week, IP will burn its usual fuel, without TDF, and compare the emissions with those from the TDF testing period.
However, a vociferous group of Vermonters-led by Gov. Jim Douglas, a Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, an independent-have been fighting to stop the test burn unless the changes they want are made.
Messrs. Douglas and Jeffords and others insist that IP spend $10 million to $15 million at Ticonderoga to install an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), a device to remove particulates from smokestack emissions. Without this, they claim, the emissions from the test burn will be unacceptably high-and harmful to Vermonters.
IP, however, said the wet scrubbers already installed at Ticonderoga should be more than adequate to ensure acceptable emissions from a TDF burn. Only after the test burn, according to the company, will it become clear whether an ESP is necessary.
Mr. Jeffords blasted the DEC's permit decision in a July 28 press release. ``If IP wants to burn tires, the solution is simple: It should upgrade its outdated plant with the proper equipment to ensure that its tire burning will be safe,'' he said.
The Vermont Attorney General's Office filed suit Feb. 7 against IP and the DEC in New York Supreme Court-Albany County, seeking to halt the test burn at least until the added equipment is installed. Vermont wants the court to have an oral hearing on the issue, which the company and the New York agency insist is unnecessary.
Final papers were filed with the court June 2, and the judge had 60 days from that time to decide whether to schedule a hearing or go on to a final judgment, the IP spokeswoman said. However the judge rules on this issue will have no effect on the EPA's actions regarding the permit, she added.