Leave the wood smoke genie in the bottle
In response to the article “Fired up about wood,” on Feb. 23, let’s think about the pollution that will result from the two incinerators.The following paragraph was excerpted from the Department of Energy website http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/ja3.html).”Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases and particulate matter – many of these compounds can cause serious health problems, especially for children, pregnant women and people with respiratory ailments. Several of these pollutants have demonstrated cancer-causing properties similar to cigarette smoke.”Also, consider that some of the pine in the county grew in the presence of mine tailings and toxic metals such as lead.Plants and trees tend to accumulate these toxic metals – do a Google search on “hyperaccumulation.” When this pine is burned, any absorbed metals would be released in the air or remain in the ash. Far-fetched? As a precedent, we know that much of the harmful mercury in the environment came from the burning of coal (which formed from ancient biomass) without proper pollution control equipment.Besides the air pollution, what is the plan for the disposal of the ash? Even small amounts of metals in the ash would trigger a hazardous waste classification.Furthermore, although metals are tightly bound in the original wood, any metals in the ash would leach. I recommend against giving it to people to use for gardening. Sending it to the landfill is not an attractive option either.Do we really want to release this smoke (and ash) into our beautiful mountain environment and reservoir? Sooner or later, most county residents will inhale the emissions, unless the smokestack is very tall.There is a simple way to determine whether the above is exaggeration: The county can call a few insurance companies and explain the project. Ask the insurance people to indemnify the county against all future environmental and health liabilities arising from the project. The price for such a policy will be proportional to the hazards that we are creating.
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