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Attwood - To the Editor,

Fri, Oct 11th, 2002
Posted in Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

The old adage goes something like "don't believe everything you read just because it is in print". That rule of thumb can be applied to the statements made in a recent ad promoting the Heartland Energy and Recycling plant.

The simple fact is the: getting any true facts about the Heartland Energy and Recycling plant proposed for Preston's industrial park are hard to come by. It is challenging to find accurate and measurable data about this proposed plant because there is no other plant built like this one, operating with the fluidized bed technology and using 80 to 100% tire derived fuel (TDF).

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has not yet satisfactorily been able to answer questions about this proposed plant. The MPCA is drafting an Air Permit for this facility, using data from emissions from a similar (yet different) plant in Modesto, California...a plant that closed in January, 2000. Technical information supplied by the manufacturer of the fluidized bed boiler system is being used to predict what air emissions, water usage, and reclaimable materials will result if this plant is built. But where is the hard data coming from? How have they arrived at the numbers used in the EAW? The EAW creates more questions than it provides answers for.

How can people be expected to give support for a proposal when there are issues of concern still left unanswered?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), if ordered to be done, would provide information about other factors that should be taken into consideration before any decision is made about the Heartland facility. Since this plant and the cumulative effect it shares with already existing industrial facilities has the capacity to affect not only the local residents of the city of Preston, but also future industry in the region, the waters in the trout streams, visitors to the state trail system, the growing tourism industry, and farm and agricultural ventures that grow the food we eat, we should all be requesting that an EIS be performed.

Our local governments, city councils, and administrators need to be farsighted and evaluate not only the perceived payoffs, but the potential risks for each decision they face with these new proposals. Technology can only go so far in protecting our land, air, natural resources, animals, and people.

Most of all, the general population needs to take a more active role in the evaluation process for these industrial proposals. Talk with your councilmembers and governmental authorities about the matters that concern you. Watch for the public notices in your local newspapers and posted in your local post office about upcoming zoning and permitting applications. Read through the documents that are issued by the MPCA, and challenge them to validate their data. It is your right to demand that an EIS for the Heartland plant be performed so you can know how much more your quality of life may ultimately be affected. If you have comments or concerns about the Heartland Energy and Recycling plant, it is vitally important that you voice them to your local authorities and also send them in to the MPCA during the public comment period. You don't need to be just need to be heard.

Kathleen Attwood

Preston, MN

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