• Biomass disaster is no coincidence
    November 29,2012
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    Coincidence! Coincidence!

    How many “coincidences” do we have to have before the public realizes that those pushing the biomass project in North Springfield are trying to sell us a bill of goods.

    It just happened that when it was revealed (by a private citizen) that Springfield did not have enough water to supply the biomass project without damaging the town supply, that in less than a month they had a new plan that used less water. Where did that plan come from in so short a time?

    Reading their re-application to the Public Service Board, we find that this new plan was based on two plants in Massachusetts that were never built.

    Were the “expert engineers” aware from the beginning that there could be a problem with the water system? It only took the reading of Springfield’s water reports and simple mathematics to know that Springfield’s only water system would be put at risk and still is at risk.

    It was brought to the attention of the public that the biomass plant does not conform to the town plan in numerous areas. Suddenly a new town plan is being submitted. It is required for towns to update the town plan every five years. Springfield adopted its present plan in 2009. Another has been submitted with the intent to pass it before the end of 2012.

    On page 66 of the new town plan draft under “Alternative Energy Resources,” it says: “Biomass for energy production is renewable materials such as wood, agricultural and municipal waste — converting current municipal solid waste, farm waste and other (biomass) can help reduce pollution as well as ease the burden on waste management facilities.”

    Strange, just “coincidently” two areas in the Winstanley application to the Public Service Board that brag on page 2, “the boiler technology is very attractive as it is designed with a large operating window to allow for the efficient burning of a (wide variety of fuels with different moisture and heating values).” This is repeated again in this report.

    At the public hearing on this town plan draft, it was acknowledged that this section, did need rewriting, but had nothing to do with the Winstanley project, because it was written before negotiations with them had begun. In the 2009 town report on page 42 it says: “We are continuing to work closely with Winstanley Enterprises on their proposed biomass facility, which would be located adjacent to the 36 Precision Drive facility in North Springfield.” Note the word “continuing,” which means negotiations had begun before 2009. Just another coincidence?

    Oh, yes! Then there was the public hearing on Nov. 7 to rezone properties. Guess where? On the edge of the Industrial Park — seven homes that just happen to be directly across from the County Road exit onto Main Street. When it was asked if the plan was to take these properties by eminent domain and to construct a road through this residential area for truck traffic to the biomass plant, it was stated that it was just a “coincidence” that this came at the same time.

    If anyone believes any of these above just happened to be “coincidence,” I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Remember — 57 contaminants and particulates floating through the air we breathe. Excess of 13,000 tractor-trailer trucks per year pounding our roads and bridges and adding their pollutants into the air. Twenty thousand acres of wood equivalent per year for this facility alone. Multiply this by the two we already have in Vermont and at least two more planned, as well as those across the Connecticut River and the smaller users of wood chips — all vying for the same wood supply.

    The health of a whole community will be put at risk. The Green Mountains of Vermont, that bring tourists to admire, will be stripped. The peace will be shattered by the roar of truck motors. The roads, bridges and nearby buildings will be shaken from the vibrations of these large trailer trucks. Tree diseases will be transmitted through the scattering of woodchips along the roads as these trucks pass through. Who do you think will have to pay for this? Common sense should warn the public that $2 million in taxes proponents say Winstanley will pay will not begin to cover the cost of damage done to the infrastructure. No one is even considering the health of the people.

    The Massachusetts medical community won a state moratorium on biomass plants. If our town and state representatives are truly concerned for the welfare of the public, they would do the same.

    These biomass plants are neither green nor sustainable.

    Jean Willard is a resident of North Springfield.
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