Eco-Minder

The state of the environment is troubling nowadays with various forms of pollutionon the rise and not much being done about it. What is extremely frustrating is the fact that people are still toying around with the idea of cutting back on pollutant emissions, but many still aren’t taking the steps to do so. Take, for example, the tire burning test that took place at International Paper Co. this month. IP started the test of tire-derived fuel production in order to see how much pollution it produces, and the results they have been gathering show the tires emit a great deal. On Nov. 16, IP planned a three-hour test during which one ton of tire chips would be burned each hour. During the first hour, the boiler released 0.109 pounds of particulates. The limit for particulates calls for no more than a tenth of a pound of particulate matter to be produced per million British thermal units of heat energy it creates. The test was then carried on for another hour, which emitted another 0.093 pounds, before it was halted. Producing so much particulate matter came as a surprise to both International Paper and Jeffrey Wennberg, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. IP even stopped the tests for the weekend until Monday. Certainly, the particulate matter levels reached must have surprised the New York Department of Environmental Conservation as well. The NYSDEC gave IP a permit allowing them to burn three tons of tires an hour! It’s a little mind-boggling that they would have permitted that amount; especially considering IP scientists didn’t even expect to be able to reach that level of production. IP has even claimed that they plan on installing anti-pollution equipment in the future. Unfortunately, they didn’t before these tests, which continued to occur until Nov. 27. Countless Vermonters, including Governor James Douglas and Jeffrey Wennberg, have demanded pollution control devices of IP for the past several years. The company has responded to these demands by saying that it wants to measure the amount of pollution released, but that seems rather unnecessary. To voice further opposition to these burnings, numerous Vermonters gathered on Nov. 18. Among the many present was Ashley Hall, the president of the Vermont Student Environmental Program. All expressed concerns over the air pollution heading Vermont’s way and the need for improved filters. If the International Paper Co. is going to burn tires, they should at least make an effort to control the particulate matter they produce. Simply installing filters would have allowed them to burn the same amount of tires-or even more – and reduce emissions. More opposition must be voiced to reach New York and International Paper Co.Anyone who is concerned can help by writing letters to federal and N.Y. environmental officials because they truly need to hear everyone’s opposition.