Perhaps Will Rogers’ common-sense advice will prevail across the Olympic Peninsula and legislators will place a moratorium on biomass incinerators, recognizing that massive wood burning will increase human health risks and further pollute our bodies and our teetering ecosystem.
Nippon and Port Townsend Paper say these incinerators will preserve mill jobs. Worried about local economies, their supporters accept corporate promises. Skeptics cite Samuel Goldwyn: “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” Others note that Nippon answers to Japan. Port Townsend Paper refuses public questions.
A welter of federal and state subsidies use tax dollars to underwrite biomass incinerators, covering about 40 percent of capital costs. Forced to pay the real costs, companies would need to charge two to four times more for their electricity. The City of Port Angeles gives Nippon big breaks on utilities, reducing its water bill by $1.5 million a year, compared to rates citizens pay, and not charging a base electricity rate.
The power generated won’t be used locally but will be sold to the highest bidder. Corporations reap the profits; communities are guaranteed only pollution.
Consider: Nippon’s incinerator would more than double the toxins released upwind of Port Angeles, Sequim and much of Clallam County. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) would increase by 51 percent, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 62.1 percent, carbon monoxide, (CO) 133.5 percent.
Combined with moisture, these gases become acids that fall as particles (dry deposition) or acid rain.
Oxygen and CO become CO2, the gas that’s warming our planet and making the oceans so acidic that restaurants featuring regional seafood may need to re-think their menus.
Northwest oyster farmers have observed the impact of acidification on oyster larvae since 2006. Natural spawning has not occurred around Willapa Bay for six years. In the thousand-acre Fish and Wildlife Willapa Bay preserve, “The reserves are down to nil,” said Taylor Shellfish spokesman Bill Dewey.
Smaller farms that depend on larvae Mother Nature provides now struggle.
Carbon dioxide is breaking down essential marine ecosystems. Increasing acidification may seriously jeopardize survival in young fish, Janet Raloff reports in Science News. Calcium carbonate, essential for crabs, corals and shellfish to build their skeletons and shells, declines with acidity.
Certain harmful algae blooms also thrive in acidic waters, releasing toxins that can kill fish, mammals and birds and make humans sick.
The Department of Ecology reported finding dioxins and furans, pesticides, PCBs, arsenic, mercury, cadmium and zinc in Port Angeles harbor sediments. A hearing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at the Olympic Medical Center, Linkletter Hall, 939 Caroline St., Port Angeles, offers an opportunity to examine these results and ask questions.
Dioxin contamination was found in soil samples taken around Port Angeles, but no countywide soil study has been undertaken.
A crowd called for a moratorium on biomass plants at the Clallam County Board of Health meeting Feb. 21, citing numerous health concerns. Some spoke of choosing the peninsula for its clean air and worrying about having to relocate.
Family physician Penny Burdick noted that ultra-fine soot particles from biomass burning can travel into the bloodstream, pass the blood-brain barrier, damage every internal organ and even fetuses in the womb.
Virtually weightless, these numerous and dangerous ultrafine particles and nanoparticles drift with prevailing winds. They are completely unregulated and can’t be eliminated by current technology.
“The best way to keep air clean is not to dirty it in the first place,” said Clallam County resident Francisco de la Cruz.
Burning wood to generate electricity is hardly a sure-fire money-maker. Biomass plants in Loyalton, Calif., Gunnison, Colo., Snowflake, Ariz., Millersberg, Ore., and a dozen across the country have failed, often because fuel costs became too expensive.
Kitsap and Mason counties have moratoriums on biomass plants.
A presentation, “Burning Biomass: Economic, Environmental & Health Concerns,” will be from 2-4 p.m.
Sunday, March 11, at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., and will feature Kees Kolff, MD, and Bob Lynette.
A moratorium would at least stop the digging until we can examine an issue key to a healthful future for our communities.
Modern Maya welcome end of the world we know
Wed, Dec 12, 2012
Mycelium rock! Peering into the underground world of mushrooms
Wed, Jun 20, 2012
Living on invisible boundaries
Tue, May 8, 2012
Bee-wildering rites of spring
Wed, Apr 11, 2012
Who’s messing with what? And why?
Wed, Mar 28, 2012
Giving can transform you and your community
Wed, Mar 14, 2012
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging
Tue, Feb 28, 2012
That’s billion – with a B
Wed, Feb 15, 2012
A plastic world with plastic oceans
Wed, Feb 1, 2012
Coping when values and costs collide
Tue, Dec 6, 2011
Are we broke? Or broken?
Wed, Nov 23, 2011
Moving from yes or no to multiple choice
Thu, Nov 10, 2011
Who can we bank on?
Thu, Oct 27, 2011
Coming to terms with money, greed and power
Wed, Oct 12, 2011
Lies, damned lies and price tags
Wed, Sep 14, 2011
We all pay for our failing justice system
Wed, Aug 31, 2011
From techno-trauma to a glimpse of Nirvana
Fri, Aug 19, 2011
What’s going down the drain?
Thu, Aug 4, 2011
Life’s biggest lesson
Thu, May 26, 2011
So long, lawns — Mother Earth will not miss you
Wed, Apr 27, 2011