Open forum — St. Thomas
Focusing on the areas that I as a health advocate and an environmentalist, I have grave concerns when I am shown a chart that highlights the fact that this coke burning process will produces 40% less carbon and other emissions than our old, outdated, broke down power plant. Since Alpine is not replacing WAPA, to me this means that this Coke Burning Plant is going to add an additional 60% of their emissions to what already is being emitted by WAPA, and only supplying less than 20% of the current demand, to what benefit is this to the health of our residents and our environment. What was also pointed out, and I found disturbing, was that the Department of Health has not spoken out nor has any representative been present at these open forums.
Another point, Alpine only gave possibilities for the waste ash material, which they claim is totally safe. Unless, they have a customer beyond our shores to purchase or accepted this by-product, we will end up with mountains of solid, What?
It seems that with our tropical environment and the threat of hurricanes, that some studies needed to be done to determine how long can this stuff sit around, with tons of it being produced every day, before it sets and becomes hard as concrete. Imagine what this will do to anyone breathing in this stuff over time. The question is how much time? Again this is not to ignore the impact on our total environment.
It is not reassuring to me with EPA's history on monitoring the hazard waste producers already here in the territory, and with their lack of experience with this process to tell me that they are the Watchdogs.
The saying, "Follow the money":
Hovensa is a big benefactor. They save by not having to pay someone to take the coke of their hands. Will they cost share their savings and / or will they use some of that windfall to restore the areas they have destroyed over the years?
Does this deal further sweeten their tax exemptions?
Alpine will be racking in millions; they're getting free coke, they're being paid to transport it, to cook it and to distribute it, and they probably will receive tax benefits. And for all of this, they offer no concrete reassurances for our health or our environmental concerns. They are offering ASH.
WAPA's savings are to be passed on to the consumers at an estimated average of 10 cent of every dollar on our monthly bills. But the LEAC remains and at the power plant it's business as usual.
Waste Management is said to benefit by not having to rely on the dumps and shipping our waste off island. So they too will be paying millions of dollars every year to Alpine to burn most of our solid waste.
The alternative solutions offered have been said to be more efficient, more green, more cost effective and more healthier for all, but can it subsidies all of our needs on a 24 - 7 bases. How will materials for the wind, solar and thermal units hold up to our corrosive climate and hurricanes?
Conservation and recycling can alleviate some of our demand for electricity.
What about our solid waste?
With the pressure to close our dumps, the demand for reliable service, the health and environmental concerns and a 20 year committed to the unknown, this contract agreement is nothing to rush into, for our children's sake. All of my figures are just estimates, and so are Alpine's.
Without Wellness what kind of future is there for anyone?
Ivan Butcher II
St. Croix, U.S V.I.