Cleveland's Plan to Build a Garbage Incinerator Goes Up in Smoke
By Sandy Buchanan
The City of Cleveland’s plans to build a garbage incinerator on the city’s west side fell to pieces in late March when it fired the project consultant. Cleveland Public Power (CPP) had signed a $1.5 million no-bid contract in March 2010 with Peter Tien of Princetown Environmental Group to design the proposed facility.
Tien was fired for submitting faulty design reports, including error-ridden financial projections. All of the plans for this plant were based on Tien’s design and the use of the Kinsei-Sangyo technology he represents.
Citizens hard work pays off
In January and February, hundreds of Clevelanders attended six public hearings to voice their opposition to the city’s plan. On Feb. 23, the day the official comment period on the facility’s proposed air pollution permit ended, two significant events occurred that vindicated the public’s objections:
1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says air permit violates the Clean Air Act
The U.S. EPA told CPP that its proposed facility would be classified as an “incinerator” and would be required to follow the rules as such, rather than as just a “gasifier” as the city claimed. The EPA said the incinerator would be considered a new “major” source of pollution, and would be subject to stronger monitoring and pollution reduction measures than “minor” sources.
The U.S. EPA also said the city and Ohio EPA should abandon the permit that had been submitted and start the process all over again.
CPP, with consultants hired by Peter Tien, scrambled to respond to the U.S. EPA’s evaluation by announcing it would have three combustion units at its proposed garbage incinerator rather than four. CPP also said it would raise the height of the smoke stacks from 175 to 200 feet, and change the emissions of nitrogen oxide to be just under the federal threshold for a major polluter.
However, the amount of harmful pollution from the plant remained essentially the same in the new configuration. The revised version of the incinerator would emit 78 tons of soot—virtually the same as the previous plan. It would emit more dioxin and would still be the largest mercury polluter in Cuyahoga County. Raising the stacks would only spread the pollution over a larger area, affecting more people. The status of the permit is now unclear, due to the U.S. EPA’s comments and the fact that the city’s plan was based on Tien’s design.
2) Cleveland notifies Tien its plan to terminate his contract
The city sent Tien a warning letter on Feb. 23, telling him it planned to terminated his contract unless he could “cure his deficiencies” within 10 days. By March 7 he had submitted a new report. However, the new report contained many of the same errors, including faulty financial projections and basic mathematical errors. The termination was made final on March 22.
Public support builds for recycling and composting
At each of the public hearings for the incinerator, Cleveland Solid Waste Commissioner Ronnie Owens described the city’s plans to roll out a citywide curbside recycling program. Citizens expressed strong support for this program, and challenged the city’s relatively low goal of recycling 25 percent of its waste stream, when 62 percent of the waste stream is recyclable.
Citizens also urged the city to become a leader by developing a strong composting program, given the robust local urban agriculture movement and the significant portion of waste that can be composted. The incinerator, as planned, would have burned all compostable organic waste, since it would need the high heat content of those wastes. Ohio Citizen Action, Earth Day Coalition, Environmental Health Watch and other groups are planning on holding a day-long citywide forum on recycling and composting on Saturday, June 2. For more information on this event, contact Sandy Buchanan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Trepal at email@example.com.
Cleveland Public Power doesn’t need an incinerator to meet “advanced energy” standards
In its full page ads promoting the incinerator in January, CPP said the alternative to building the facility is to “keep doing what we are doing,” including “continue buying 99.9 percent of our power from the market.” CPP also said it needs to build the incinerator to “obtain electric generation that helps meet the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standards goals for CPP.”
Both of these claims are red herrings. CPP has in fact already signed long term “take or pay” contracts with American Municipal Power (AMP) to become, in effect, owners of at least 75 megawatts of baseload power and 60 megawatts of intermediate power that does not come from the market. The intermediate power has already come on line, and most of the other new plants are slated to go on line in 2012 and 2013. This means CPP has already committed to having at least 40 percent of its baseload power come from non-market sources.
These contracts include 50 megawatts of power from AMP’s new hydro plants on the Ohio River. The hydro power meets the city’s definition of “advanced energy,” and will allow the city to fully meet, and likely surpass, its own standard of purchasing 15 percent of its power by renewable sources by 2015. CPP does not need a municipal waste incinerator to meet this standard.
Power from an incinerator would not be “clean” or “green.” Megawatt for megawatt, the proposed incinerator would be more polluting than a new coal-fired power plant, according to the incinerator’s proposed air pollution permit. At the public hearings, citizens urged CPP to invest in real sources of renewable energy and to investigate solar power, wind power and energy efficiency.
For more information, visit www.noclevelandincinerator.blogspot.com.
By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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