BIOMASS INCINERATORS – Separating Fact from Fiction By Dr. Tom Termotto

Posted in the Biomass Forum

Dr Tom Termotto CCFL

Tallahassee, FL

#1 Jul 10, 2010
Shall we begin by stating that biomass incinerators are rarely, if ever, factually represented by the many sales pitches we see issued by the Energy Industry sector that promotes them. In fact, the marketing language that has now become de rigueur is reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
To the point, biomass incineration is NOT clean and green, sustainable and renewable, carbon neutral and cost effective, or environmentally friendly and ecologically sound. It is quite the opposite of these beautiful and alluring marketing slogans. Biomass incineration is in reality quite polluting, unsustainable to the extreme and, in some cases, less environmentally friendly than coal burning plants.
Remember the old-fashioned hospital incinerator that nobody ever wanted to live downwind from. Who would want mercury vapors, and the many other highly toxic aerosols, wafting through their neighborhood? Well, then, why would a community want a biomass incinerator sited within winds’ reach of their schools, subdivisions and businesses. The post incineration output of these biomass plants can be much worse than a hospital’s depending on what is being incinerated.
Let’s not forget the golden rule of energy production:“Garbage in; garbage out”. Ultimately the permitting process for these incinerators often allows for the burning of various types of refuse and other feedstocks, which will necessarily degrade air quality. A close look at any state air permit application for these biomass plants will reveal the mix of carcinogens, toxins, pollutants, contaminants and poisons that is really quite alarming.
As we have evaluated the emission estimates of various pollutants, which have been submitted by the very biomass companies themselves, we wonder how they make the leap across the chasm to such environmentally attractive sound bites. Let’s be clear about the assortment and type of contaminants which will inevitably show up in the surrounding air of these biomass plants.
One can only imagine the harmful effects to human and animal life that these pollutants will cause in those unfortunate cities and counties that have succumbed to the governmental and energy industry forces, which routinely foist these schemes on an uninformed public. What follows is a quote from the Healthcare Professionals For Clean Environment in their letter to Governor Charlie Crist of Florida regarding a proposed biomass incinerator for Gadsden County, FL.
The profound medical repercussions and health impacts of this form of incineration and crude energy production cannot be understated. Medical organizations from around the country have been weighing in on this matter for as long as biomass marketeers have been submitting their sales literature to the many small, economically depressed communities that are vulnerable to such ill-conceived proposals. The twenty to thirty long-term jobs, which are created by these biomass propositions, will be taken by many who will inevitably experience dangerous levels of exposure to the aforementioned chemicals. Therefore, they will suffer adverse health conditions, which will then contribute to the local medical burden, as well as significantly increase the healthcare costs associated with lifelong remediation.

In an age when the nation is moving toward more enlightened energy platforms concerning production, dissemination and utilization, it is quite anachronistic that some would have us go back to the Stone Age. Burning trees and the like is, after all, what was done before there was solar, wind, oil and gas, coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power. Why in the world, with a global population approaching 7 billion, would we want to go back to energy sources that are as primitive as they are downright dirty?!

Dr. Tom Termotto, BCIM

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