Animal waste a no-no’ for any biomass plant, panel decides
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 09,2013
SPRINGFIELD — Concerns that “animal waste” might mean the disposal of manure as well as animal carcasses in a biomass plant, the Springfield Planning Commission has again fine-tuned the language in the revised Springfield Town Plan.
“They reworded the part of the plan on biomass,” said Springfield Zoning Administrator William Kearns. “Everybody was fine with it.”
The new language allows for the burning of sawdust, waste wood and forest products, as well as woodchips. Wood construction demolition debris will not be allowed to be burned, he said.
Kearns said when “animal waste” was included in the language, he had in mind the disposal of “camel dung,” used by soldiers like his son in the Mideast .
“Biomass for energy production can use sawdust, waste woods, low-grade forest products and animal wastes,” the revised plan originally said. “While biomass plants are an excellent source for the utilization of lower quality forest products, issues have been raised regarding the impacts on air quality, forest health, water consumption with regards to the larger plants.”
But Kearns said people were concerned with the inclusion of animal waste, especially since Black River Produce was putting in a large-scale butchery shop in the former Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., facility in North Springfield.
“It didn’t mean carcasses at all,” said Kearns. The Springfield Planning Commission took up the language issue during a meeting Wednesday night.
Kearns said the planning board rejected a suggestion that said the town didn’t want biomass plants in the town.
The town of Springfield has so far remained formally neutral about the proposed North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project.
Maggie Kelly, a spokeswoman for North Springfield Action Group, said members of the citizen group wanted the wording of “animal waste” clearly defined.
“One of the planning members felt that omitting the verbiage “animal waste” would leave the door closed for cow power. I did not and went on to explain that I felt omitting the word would not negate the use of cow power in the future,” Kelly wrote in an email.
“It is important that the town plan does not in any way imply that animal waste, which could include much more than cow power, is a viable material that would ever be accepted as fuel in the town of Springfield,” she added.
Kelly said the group also asked that the concern for residents’ health be added to the revised town plan, and that language was added.
“I felt that every member of the planning board listened attentively and responded thoughtfully and respectfully,” she said. “They made good suggestions that seemed to reflect they heard NoSAG and the other concerned citizens.”
Kearns said he was concerned that some people believed the new town plan would apply to the North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project proposed by a partnership of Winstanley Enterprises and Weston Solutions Inc. Kearns noted the energy project, which wants to build a 35-megawatt, woodchip-fired power plant on land owned by Winstanley in the North Springfield Industrial Park, filed for its state certificate of public good last year, before the changes in the town plan were proposed.
However, Kearns said if the wood-fired plant ever files for an amendment the changes would apply.