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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesEnvironmental Concerns Top List at Waste-to-Energy Plant Meeting

Environmental Concerns Top List at Waste-to-Energy Plant Meeting

When asked about the emission of potential toxic materials, Andy Hixson, Alpine vice president of environmental permitting, pointed residents to the company's website.Environmental concerns were at the top of the list Thursday as about 100 people gathered at the St. John Legislature building to ask questions about the proposed Alpine Energy Group waste-to-energy plants to be built on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
"When I think of the pristine Virgin Islands, I think of clean water and clean air," St. John resident Myrtle Barry said.
She was one of about a dozen people who spoke at the meeting after listening to presentations from Alpine, the Waste Management Authority and the Water and Power Authority. This was the last of a series of similar meetings held earlier this week on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Barry and others expressed concerns about the use of petroleum coke in the process. She said that she expects that the territory to become a "mecca" for places that need to get rid of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining process. Alpine plans to use petroleum coke from the St. Croix oil refinery Hovensa.
Several people said they were concerned that ash from the plants would end up on roofs. However, WAPA consultant Michael Lukey said that 95 to 99 percent of the particles from the petroleum coke burned in the process would be captured in the system.
Additionally, Alpine Vice President Don Hurd said that the company hopes to replace some of the petroleum coke with other fuels, such as biomass. He suggested that farmers might grow crops to be used as fuel.
"Stands of cane can be grown to replace pet coke. We want to explore that," he said.
The waste-to-energy plants’ byproduct, a concrete-like substance, could be used in concrete manufacturing and in other industrial uses. Hurd said Alpine is discussing with local companies ways to use the byproduct.
In response to a question from St. John resident John Levering about the effect greenhouse gas regulations would have on the project, WAPA Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said that because petroleum coke is cheaper than the oil currently burned at WAPA plants, WAPA would be in a better financial position to absorb the regulatory costs. Additionally, he said that since 30 percent of greenhouse gases come from landfills, burning the garbage will decrease that figure.
Several people said they wanted to know exactly what toxic materials would be emitted by the plants. Andy Hixson, Alpine’s vice president of environmental permitting, said that information was available on the company’s website. However, several people claimed the information was insufficient.
Lukey later pointed out that more information would be available as Alpine goes through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permitting process.
And several of the officials and consultants at the meeting said that if Alpine doesn’t get the necessary permits, the plants won’t be built.

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