Federal Wheelabrator review almost done

Decision could come Monday
By Damien Fisher | May 16, 2014

CLAREMONT — The federal review of the now shuttered Wheelabrator waste-to-energy-plant on Grissom Lane is nearly complete, clearing to the way for a possible use of the facility.

Gary Milbury Jr., the air permit programs manager with the New Hampshire Air Resources Council said this week he expects to hear from the federal Environmental Protection Agency by Monday about a final opinion about the proposed Title V Operating Permit the state issued to the plant approximately two years ago.

“If (United Stated Environmental Protection Agency) does not object to the proposed Title V Operating Permit, (the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services) will issue a final Title V Operating Permit identical to the Proposed Title V Operating Permit, as the proposed permit was essentially DES's final action on the application,” Milbury wrote in an email responding to the Eagle Times this week.

The state permit was appealed by community members, including Rebecca Mackenzie and Katie Lajoie, who objected to the pollution emitted by the plant. As that appeal worked its way through the process before the state Air Resources Council, the necessary federal review of the permit was put on hold.

Lajoie has said the company was violating its permit with the practice of burning the baghouse filters that are used in the smokestacks to catch the pollution. Ultimately, the Air Resources Council rejected the appeal. That decision restarted the review process.

Milbury said that if the federal EPA does approve of the state’s permit, and a final permit is then issued, people can still appeal that decision. That appeal, however, would not be heard by a state agency, but the EPA.

"Once a final Title V Operating Permit is issued, citizens have 60 days to file a Title V Petition with the USEPA Administrator, which is essentially a citizens appeal to USEPA on the permit,” Milbury wrote.

Wheelabrator shut the plant down last October, before any decision was made about the then pending appeal of its permit. Company officials have since stated that it will consider all options for the plant now that the appeal is done, including reopening the plant or selling it to another company to operate.

Wheelabrator burned solid-waste garbage at the Grissom Lane plant, using the waste as fuel to create electricity. The company operates numerous such facilities and had been operating ion Claremont since the late 1980s. The company employed around 25 people before the shutdown.

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Damien Fisher
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