|Incinerator company warns road funds will be lost|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Mike Anderson|
|Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:12|
The Pennsylvania company that wants to build a medical waste incinerator east of Macclenny over the vocal objections of many Baker County residents has put out a press release calling on the county to approve the project to avoid losing nearly half a million dollars in state funds to build a road to the 24-acre site.
Not only does the county risk losing the infrastructure grant, it also could miss an opportunity to secure a $22 million “waste-to-energy project,” said Jay Barry, president of Integrated Waste Management Systems, Inc., which has applied for a permit to build an incinerator north of the Walmart Distribution Center off US 90.
“There is far too much at stake for Baker County to let this opportunity slip away based on fear and hysteria created by misinformation from a small group of activists,” Mr. Barry said in a recent letter on company stationery.
The letter, submitted to The Baker County Press, was written in the form of a newspaper article, complete with a Macclenny dateline and the following headline in large, bold-face type: “Baker County Officials Poised to Reject $474K in Approved State of Florida Road Funding.”
“The road funding loss would be in addition to the loss of a projected $200 million in local economic impact from the project, according to the independent Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council,” the letter stated.
Mr. Barry said the grant offer, which would help provide needed infrastructure to lands designated for future industrial development, was made by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity in a letter June 15 to County Manager C.J. Thompson.
“County officials appear willing to allow a small but loud group of naysayers (cq) to direct policy that will block more than 100 local jobs and almost $30 million in immediate construction spending on top of many other benefits,” Mr. Barry said. “It seems a shame for a county that really needs jobs and business growth.”
Mr. Barry further stated that an “invitation from Baker County officials last year” convinced his company to pursue their incinerator plans near Macclenny at an investment cost of more than $400,000. Now, he noted, “progress in Baker County appears stalled or bogged down in election year politics.”
Three commissioners are up for reelection this year and all have drawn opposition: Gordon Crews, Michael Crews and Mark Hartley. Commissioners Jimmy Anderson and Adam Giddens are half way through their first terms and won’t be up for reelection until 2014.
Finally, Mr. Barry said he would prefer to build his plant in Baker County, but “at some point the company will need to consider offers from other counties (or states) that are interested in hosting the proposed project.”
Despite what Mr. Barry described as “extensive scientific research” that answered all issues raised by concerned homeowners at a hearing on April 3, residents said they didn’t necessarily believe everything they were told. They expressed grave concerns focused on the potential harm to the environment and public health risks associated with burning medical waste, including bloody material, aborted fetuses, amputated limbs, human organs and other tissue.
On April 9, in a letter to the county commission, the company cancelled a second and final public hearing and requested a deferral of the project “until all relevant issues can be addressed to your satisfaction.”
The company also offered to pay the county to hire its own independent consultant for an analysis and professional opinion of the incinerator plans, which describe the project as a “Bio-Medical Thermal Reduction Facility.”
So far, the county has not taken the company up on its offer, nor does there appear to be any willingness to do so.
Despite the tone of the IWMS letter, which clearly implied the county would be remiss if it did not give its blessing to the incinerator proposal, county commissioners did not appear ready to jump on the company bandwagon.
“IWMS has lost all credibility with me,” Commissioner Michael Crews said. “Therefore, I didn’t and don’t expect anything less from them (than) to attack the board instead of accepting responsibility for misleading the people of Baker County and me as a commissioner.”
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 December 2012 12:46|