Sunday, February 10, 2019

If It's Not One Thing, It's the Other

Gossips got word this morning from a reader about a plan by a company that operates power plants fueled by burning trash to site a facility in an inactive cement quarry at Smith's Landing. The news was confirmed by this article, which appeared in the print version of The Daily Mail on Friday, February 8, but did not appear online at HudsonValley360.

The article reports that Wheelabrator Technologies is "testing the site to see if it is feasible for the facility and the project is about two or three years from fruition." Mark Schwartz, manager of development for Wheelabrator, called the site "ideal for the project" and is quoted as saying, "It's an industrial zone with no repurpose value. There's no use for the land, there's no abutters, there's no disturbance of the viewshed." He also promised it would bring great benefits to the town and the village of Catskill, which experienced a $50,000 loss of tax revenue when the quarry and the cement plant closed.

At the end of the article, readers are invited "to learn more about how Wheelabrator creates energy from waste" by watching a video on YouTube. That video can be accessed by clicking here.    

A Google search uncovered two recent reports about Wheelabrator: one from WGBH News in May 2018 about a controversial landfill owned and operated by Wheelabrator in Saugus, Massachusetts: "Environmentalists and Town of Saugus Appeal State Approval of Ash Landfill"; the other from the Baltimore Sun in August 2018 calls the Wheelabrator incinerator in Baltimore "the city's single largest source of industrial air pollution": "Maryland calls on Baltimore trash incinerator to cut emissions of a harmful pollutant by one-fifth." The article notes that, although the incinerator emits about 1,100 tons of nitrogen oxides each year, "It is considered a renewable energy facility under a state incentive program, allowing it to collect millions of dollars each year in subsidies from Maryland electricity ratepayers."

It's not entirely clear if what's proposed for Catskill is a power plant or an ash landfill. Some sources indicate that it is a landfill.


  1. Wheelabrator has a disturbing track record. Here's a bunch of Google links..

  2. Wheelabrator owns the incinerator in Peekskill, which burns most of Westchester's residential trash - up to 2,200 TONS PER DAY. That creates a lot of ash, they're likely looking for a nearby place to dump it. The ash is full of toxins, but they'll never admit it. Nearly impossible to get an incinerator built these days - I doubt they would try. BILL HUSTON

  3. They are definitely applying to build an incinerator to burn NYC trash. Half of it. Right here in our National Heritage site.
    Last time it was the cement plant. Now this.

    And do we want burning garbage within 25!miles of us. ?

  4. It’s always difficult to get the full story from a Johnson publication, but reading the end of the article they appear to be contemplating a landfill/dump for the ash from burning trash elsewhere—not an incinerator.

    But it could be a stalking horse for a future boiler, I suppose. Trying to do so in the southwestern viewshed of Olana seems theoretically impossible, but you never know.

  5. Before everyone gets all knee jerky, it would be useful to really check on Wheelabrator's latest technologies for producing renewable energy. The Baltimore plan was built in 1985, so it's pretty old. The links to the lawsuits suggested carelessness in one community, although not necessarily evil intent. They are also about to be bought or have been bought by Macquarie Infrastructure Corp, an Australian company that invests in sustainable businesses.
    It would be irresponsible to dismiss out of hand any technologies that may, even if imperfectly, be advancing environmental support. More research needed.

    1. When burning trash gets labelled by companies and government as "sustainable" and a "renewable source of energy" we are doomed.
      Bill Huston

  6. Technological innovation in the world of MSW fly ash tends to focus on materials recovery (of heavy metals and salts), detoxification and PH management. If this is a fly ash landfill proposal, then all eyes should be wide open.