Alert #29

Another waste burner proposed for Pigeon Point, Delaware

Port Penn, DE. September, 1998. People living near Pigeon Point (on the Delaware River near New Castle, Delaware) have waged a long fight against garbage incinerators and other polluting facilities in their backyards. They scored an important victory with the passage in June, 1998, of a bill banning garbage incineration in the Delaware Coastal Zone. Now, Philpower Corp., a closely held Delaware corporation, wants to build a waste wood burner in their backyards at 1 Davidson Lane, near the New Castle Industrial Park. According to Philpower representative Michael Knauff, the plant would burn "clean" wood chips barged into Delaware and hauled by truck to the site. The chips would come from waste wood diverted from landfills. The plant would have a generating capacity of 25 megawatts. (The previous garbage incinerator at Pigeon Point had a generating capacity of 18 megawatts. The total generating capacity of Connectiv (Delmarva Power) is about 2700 megawatts.)

The facility has received a "Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity" from the Delaware Public Service Commission, and has signed a "power purchase agreement" with Connectiv (Delmarva Power). The plant also has a contract to sell carbon dioxide gas, extracted from the combustion gases, to Praxair Corporation, one of the world's largest distributors of industrial gases. According to documents filed with the Public Service Commission the facility also plans to sell steam to nearby industries. A document filed on Aug 27, 1997, describes the facility as a "cogenerator," and states that "This environmentally friendly facility will have the additional societal benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming." It is claimed that emissions of methane, a global warming gas, will be lower than if the same amount of wood rotted in landfills.

Several years ago a proposed wood burner in Minquadale, about 2 miles west of Pigeon Point, was opposed and defeated by nearby communities. Green Delaware calculations showed it would emit as much "NOx," an ozone precursor, as 55 thousand new cars. Delaware has "severe" ozone pollution problems. Green Delaware has so far not received data on the predicted emissions of the Philpower facility, or on the actual origin of the wood chips to be burned.

In addition to the Public Service Commission, promoters of the project have met with air and Coastal Zone permitting officials. In spite of the recent passage of a bill banning garbage incineration in the Coastal Zone, administrator Dennis Brown said he saw no reason why the project could not receive a Coastal Zone permit as a "power plant." None of the state officials with knowledge of the project notified community representativesöalthough legal notices appeared in connection with Public Service Comm. proceedings. Andrea Kreiner, Coordinator for Environmental Justice for the Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said that her department intends to develop policies leading to more effective public outreach and earlier notification. Mr. Knauff said that to his knowledge no one from Philpower had contacted community representatives but that perhaps it would have been a good idea to have done so. He stated repeatedly that the project was "clean" and should not concern to nearby communities.

"I don't want it. Other residents don't want it. We'll fight it." said Cathy Booth, longtime Holloway Terrace community activist. "We have many existing air pollution problems, and we don't need any new ones."

Look for more details in upcoming Green Delaware News. (C) Alan Muller


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This page was last updated on June 2, 1999.