A recent article in the Source included input from the St. Croix Environmental Association and its executive director, Bill Turner, with respect to the territory's solid waste disposal crisis. (See "Concerns raised about waste authority bill".) We know that SEA and its members, including Mr. Turner, want to analyze and advise about the territory's waste crisis based on facts. Therefore, Caribbean Waste Technologies would like to clarify certain statements in the referenced article and published elsewhere.
First: Approximately 220,000 tons of waste per year are deposited in the Bovoni and Anguilla dumps. These dumps do not comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. They emit leachate, a poisonous liquid, that contaminates the territory's drinking water and the sea. Air emissions from these dumps are also dangerous. According to internationally respected scientists and medical professionals, these combined emissions cause cancer, respiratory and other diseases and contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
SEA has suggested that one solution to the solid waste crisis is to develop new landfills. Developing new landfills will perpetuate the problems the territory is now experiencing. New landfills will emit the same leachate and air emissions as the two operating dumps in the territory. Leachate will be better controlled, but not eliminated. In addition, where would these two new landfills be located? No one wants them in their backyard. New landfills will waste hundreds of acres of valuable land and render the land, including a significant buffer area, useless for all time.
Second: Mr. Turner is quoted as saying CWT has proposed "a questionable system that is grossly impractical for the Virgin Islands." The facts do not support Mr. Turner's position.
The Thermoselect technology has been operating since 1992. Five facilities have been permitted and built and have received commercial operating licenses in Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea. These environmentally concerned governments have accepted the practicality of the Thermoselect technology. What does SEA know that these countries do not?
Japan is similar to the U.S.V.I. in that it comprises a group of islands where land is scarce and population density is high. Such locations are best served by a solid waste processing technology that recycles 100 percent of the waste and requires no landfills. The Thermoselect technology does both. Thermoselect's licensee in Japan, Kawasaki, has two plants in commercial operation and three more under construction.
Third: SEA supports "a goal of zero waste" and "seeking out methods of resource recovery." Solving the territory's solid waste crisis using resource recovery technology, such as front-end recycling, is a laudable goal. However, after decades of effort, only a small volume of the territory's waste is being recycled. This does not mean that we should give up on recycling, reuse or waste minimization programs. Rather, we must understand and deal with their limitations.
Products extracted from the waste stream such as plastic, paper and metals cannot be converted into recycled products cost effectively where electricity is expensive as is the case in the U.S.V.I. Products taken from the territory's waste stream cannot be economically shipped to U.S. markets for recycling, except for aluminum cans. The cost of shipping every other product is far more than the value of the products. These are plain economic facts. Recycling can solve part of the problem, but only a small part.
Fourth: SEA has indicated the CWT project would cost the territory $37 million per year. This is not correct. The net annual cost of disposal is approximately $25 million. SEA neglected to credit the revenues the project will receive from the Water and Power Authority purchasing electricity at their avoided cost as required by federal and territorial law. In addition, SEA did not account for the revenues that will be received from the sale of products recycled in the Thermoselect process. The cost to service three islands, including the transfer station and inter-island transport ship, is very competitive with mainland costs.
Fifth: The CWT project will process all waste generated in the U.S.V.I., including residential, commercial, industrial and medical waste, sludges, tires, batteries, used oils and used computer equipment, in accordance with territorial and EPA regulations. Air emissions from the facility are far below those allowed by the EPA. There are no process water emissions. The Anguilla and Bovoni dumps will be shut down permanently. No new landfills will be required in the U.S.V.I. The project will generate "green" electricity from a renewable energy source — the territory's waste. It will help reduce WAPA's reliance on expensive foreign oil and help reduce global warming.
It is time for a practical solution to the solid waste crisis. Public health and the environment should be protected. Bovoni and Anguilla should be closed. The territory spent millions of dollars to conduct a fair, open competitive procurement. The selection committee, with the advice of the U.S. EPA and Department of Energy, selected five companies who joined together as the CWT Alliance. The costs of all capital-intensive projects are seriously impacted by interest rates. Currently we have 40-year low rates. Delay costs real money. Why waste that money because of inaction? Inaction also places at continued risk the environment and public health.
CWT will be pleased to provide SEA, or anyone else, whatever project information would be helpful. Everyone benefits from an informed public view based on facts, not speculation or misunderstanding. Please send whatever questions you have to my attention via the Source, or by postal mail to CWT, 17 Mystic Lane, Chester County Commons, Malvern PA 19355.
Frank Campbell, President
Caribbean Waste Technologies
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