Maybe this is because the air in Delaware is CODE Yellow very often, especially in the summer, and state officials don’t want to remind Delawareans of this reality. Continue reading
In an earlier post we promised these comments last week. Apologies for the delay. The matter is complex for us because it involves not only the merits of the “Green Recovery Technologies” application itself, but the manner in which enforcement of the Coastal Zone Act has been largely rendered (notice pun) into a farce.
Our comments are in the record. We concluded that
“Green Delaware does not oppose further processing of wastewater treatment sludge from poultry slaughtering operations. It is possible that such could be desirable. But the GRT application has innumerable fatal defects. The DNREC should deny the requested CZA permit.”
Treating the people like garbage in Delaware?
Our previous comments on this matter may have had some effect, but we don’t know what the Markell administration intends to do, and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) secretary David Small did not return a call (We didn’t really expect him to, because we know him, but we tried.).
We’ve had some long conversations with people in the industry, and studied the transcript of the public hearing, and talked with people in various parts of Delaware’s environmental regulatory agency (DNREC). We draw on our 20 years experience with environmental controversy in Delaware. Continue reading
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Box 69. One Stewart Street
Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
September 10, 2014
Mr, Robert Haynes, Hearing Officer
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Regarding: Peninsula Composting–Renewal, or not, of “Beneficial Use Determination”
Dear Mr. Haynes:
Green Delaware recommends, reluctantly, that the Beneficial Use Determination and other approvals for Peninsula Composting (sometimes known as the Wilmington Organics Recycling Center, WORC) not be renewed, and that the facility be required to close. Continue reading
[Note: This post is a work in progress because we are waiting for the DNREC to provide transcripts and other requested documents.]
Composting is a good thing. It’s the best way to handle the “organic” materials that make up around 30 percent of “municipal solid waste” (garbage). “Compost” is very useful in farming and gardening.
But composting, like everything else, has to be done right. It is essentially a controlled form or rotting. Done wrong, it can stink, cause air and water pollution, drive neighbors out of their homes.
Backyard or neighborhood composting doesn’t usually cause problems. Many communities compost yard waste–grass clippings, etc, and this doesn’t usually cause problems.
Composting food waste is manageable but does have more tendency to cause odors and attract rodents, especially if animal parts are involved.
When sewage sludge is added to the mix, things obviously become even more difficult.
Trying to compost mixed garbage is always a disaster.
Composting is regulated by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). There are approximately ___ permitted composting operations in Delaware.
Delaware had one big, bad experience with composting by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA, Green Delaware has often called it the “Dirty Authority”) at Pigeon Point, just south of Wilmington. In the 1980s the DSWA started up a large composting operation as part of an elaborate garbage processing operation including an incinerator. The feed to the composting operation reportedly included 275 tons per day of partially separated garbage and 250 tons per day of City of Wilmington sewage sludge. It was a disaster, stinking people out of their homes. The compost was unusable as it contained toxic PCBs.
This operation, along with the rest of the processing operations, were eventually shut down after years of community complaints.
For some background on the Dirty Authority see this article from 1998: “Misguided Delaware Solid Waste Authority Embarrasses State, Harms Communities, Doesn’t Recycle our Trash.”
Jump to 2007 and a proposal for a 700 ton per day composting in South Wilmington. There was lots of cheerleading for this and, as is often the case, Green Delaware stood mostly alone in raising concerns. Some of these:
o It would be a large operation that would bring hundreds of tons per day of often-rotten food waste from surrounding states; a much larger operation than needed to meet Delaware needs. Because of the distances, food waste would have a chance to get stinky before it even entered the composting process;
o It would be located in a classic “environmental justice” (lower income, people of color) community already burdened by many health and environmental problems;
o Some of those involved had a history of causing environmental problems.
See this 2007 Wilmington News Journal article: “Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington”
The Southbridge Civic Association signed a “Community Benefits Agreement” with the promoters. We are waiting for a copy, but a description of it is available in this presentation.
Marvin Thomas, former President of the Southbridge Civic Association, said there were few complaints during the first couple of years of operations, but many since. He said the Civic Association and surrounding communities are united in their desire that Peninsula Composting be shut down. He indicated that communities have not recently sought to implement other parts of the agreement because they are at odds with Peninsula. He also indicated that many community residents are not interested in working there because of poor working conditions and low pay.
(Thanks to Meg Sheehan of Ecolaw for a heads-up to this post.)
Most people who aren’t compromised probably get that if global warming is real, belching smokestacks aren’t the way to fix it.
I’ve come to suspect that one reason so many people don’t take climate change seriously is they can’t believe honest people would promote incinerating forests, manure, and garbage as “solutions.” The public is smelling scams. The public nose is working–climate policy has become a feeding frenzy of special interests who don’t give a damn about the future of anything but their pocketbooks. Continue reading
This is not light reading, but neither is the subject.Â Anyone wanting to know more about air pollution and health will find it worthwhile to plow through these 38 pages.
Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington
By JEFF MONTGOMERY
Posted Friday, June 8, 2007
Peninsula Compost Co. wants to use this site east of I-495 for composting food waste along with leaves and wood.
A recycling company has proposed composting 160,000 tons a year of food, leaves and wood near the Port of Wilmington, the latest sign, some environmentalists say, that the city is becoming a regional wastebasket.
Peninsula Compost Co. would recycle the castoffs from restaurants and fast-food chains from northern Delaware and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The amount of food waste proposed could exceed the total amount sent to all of Delaware’s landfills in 2002.
Nelson Widell, a principal in the project, said developers plan to cover the dozens of rotting piles of waste — each 50 yards long, 26 feet wide and 10 feet high — with a W.L. Gore & Associates fabric designed to control odors.
Alan Muller, who directs the environmental group Green Delaware, said while the project has lofty goals, it could burden neighborhoods that suffered through previous failed efforts to compost waste at the nearby Pigeon Point Landfill.
“Who’s going to be served by this, and why should more waste disposal facilities be approved for Wilmington … because other jurisdictions are smart enough to not want them in their backyard?” Muller said.
East Wilmington already has become a magnet for other types of waste. Other ventures include:
•A city government-endorsed arrangement that brought hundreds of thousands of tons of out-of-state power plant ash into Wilmington to be mixed with treated sewage sludge. VFL Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Utah-based Headwaters Inc., set a goal of marketing mixtures of ash, sludge and other industrial castoffs as a topsoil substitute. But instead of selling it on the commercial market, VFL has sent more than 1 million tons of the mixture to city-area landfills for landscaping or cover.
•A new business off Christina Avenue in south Wilmington that would collect hundreds of thousands of tons of local and out-of-state construction and demolition waste for shipment by barge to a recycling center in North Carolina.
•A new, large-scale commercial mulching center near the port, opened in advance of a ban on landfilling of northern Delaware yard wastes.
Charles H. Gifford III, president of Peninsula Composting, said his company’s venture is unrelated to others in Delaware.
Gifford said he hopes the project can win a Coastal Zone Act permit this year, allowing the startup to coincide with the landfill ban on yard wastes.
Peninsula’s plan calls for use of the filtering cover system developed by Gore to control odors, moisture and gas emissions that seep up from the piles. Dozens are in use around the world. The largest, in Everett, Wash., is roughly the same size as the one proposed for Wilmington.
“We have been looking at the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware area for a while and noted that Delaware had taken a position — a correct position — against leaf and yard waste in their landfills,” Gifford said. “It seemed like the right attitude was evolving there, from a regulatory standpoint.”
Gifford acknowledged that Peninsula would, at least initially, collect food wastes from neighboring states.
A study for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority in 2002 estimated that the entire state generates about 79,000 tons of food waste yearly.
The waste authority already has tested the Gore composting system on a smaller scale with yard waste and poultry house waste at the Sussex County landfill. And the waste authority recently purchased the equipment for use with yard waste at Cherry Island Landfill in east Wilmington.
“I’m very pleased that somebody has decided to come in and do something — not only with yard waste, but food waste,” said Pasquale S. Canzano, the waste authority’s chief executive.
The Port of Wilmington alone sometimes sends large amounts of food waste to Cherry Island, Canzano said, including “trailer loads of bananas and whatever that go bad from time to time.”
Deborah Deubert, executive director of the Rose Hill Community Center just south of the site, said neighborhoods have had trouble with industrial activities in the past. State regulators repeatedly sanctioned and eventually shut down a composting operation at Pigeon Point after odor complaints were filed against the contractor.
“The memory is still fresh, and they have other odor and dust concerns,” involving local businesses and landfills, Deubert said. “I would hope that the powers that be are making an effort to get information out so that people can ask questions about it.”
Widell, a project principal, said the company is “reaching out to neighborhood groups and neighbors. … We’re going to be talking with the neighbors, to take the mystery out of it.”
The operation in Delaware would produce about 250,000 tons yearly of topsoil and compost.
In Wilmington’s Southbridge community, longtime resident Franklin Starkey was skeptical.
“Why does it have to be in south Wilmington,” said Starkey, who lives a few blocks northwest of the proposed composting site, not far from the redeveloping Christina River waterfront.
“I admire what they’re doing with putting new condos on the water and a new ShopRite. I don’t know about compost,” Starkey said. “We already have a problem with odors here, with the landfill and the other things they have out there now. You can’t keep your windows open.”
Green Delaware Alert #255
Rally for Rights
August 1, 2003, Twelve Noon
In front of the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNREC), 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE
Activist groups reject restrictions on public participation
“Delaware Public Hearing Bill of Rights” to be presented
Groups call for action by General Assembly
Governor Minner, Attorney General Brady, held responsible
All organizations and individuals in Delaware are asked to support public
An organization that practices illegal hazardous waste dumping needs more,
not less, public input…..
We are coming together to let people know how much ground has been lost
since the spring of 2003 when many groups and citizens defended Delaware’s
environment, defeating Shell’s attempt to poison the Delaware River with
scrubber discharges containing mercury. The people came together and beat
Governor Minner, Shell, the US EPA, the Bush administration, and the
Attorney General of Delaware.
Apparently the polluters don’t want to lose any more battles.
Since then we have seen a hard stance taken against public
participation. DNREC decided no questions would be answered at public
hearings, period. Secretary John E. Hughes received much heat for this
extreme position. He backed off a little, held meetings with enviros to
talk about public hearings, and said “limited” questions would be answered
by DNREC staff.. He and his staff claim that hearings have become
“confrontational,” and “inefficient,” and accused advocates of disruptive
behavior, including shouting and cursing. These are lies. While acting
conciliatory in meetings with citizens, Hughes made clear in testimony
before legislative committees that he is determined to curtail public
participation. We think this policy comes from Governor Ruth Ann Minner,
Public hearings are getting less and less public
The next prominent public hearing was about permits for Sunoco to build a
“sulfur recovery plant” near Claymont. DNREC published restrictive
“ground rules” just before the hearing. These “ground rules” seemed
intended to prevent discussion of the most important issues at that
hearing. For example, “interstate issues” were not allowed to be discussed
although the proposes facility straddles the Pennsylvania/Delaware
line. Citizens were outraged and even Hughes described the hearing as a
“disaster.” “Obviously DNREC has not negotiated with us about public
hearings in good faith,” said Maryanne McGonegal of Common Cause.
Sunoco stonewalled almost all questions but got its Coastal Zone permit anyway.
Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board mocks public
Several groups appealed the grant of the permit to the Coastal Zone
Industrial Control Board, and a hearing was held. The members of the Board
were openly hostile and refused to accept the guidance of their own lawyer,
Deputy Attorney General Phoebe Young. They also seemed confused,
disorganized, and hopelessly ignorant of the Coastal Zone Act.
DNREC lawyers are indistinguishable from polluter’s lawyers
DNREC’s lawyer, Keith Trostle, sat at the same table with lawyers for
Sunoco and worked with them to obstruct the appeal. They claimed the
appellants had no “standing,” they accused us of “the unauthorized practice
of law,” they claimed we were “incompetent” to represent our
organizations. Trostle repeatedly claimed that the public has no rights at
public hearings other than to “observe.”
The Board dismissed the appeals of Common Cause, Green Delaware, and
Delaware Audubon because those organizations were not represented by
lawyers. It then dismissed the remaining (personal) appeal of John Kearney
without considering the arguments made.
An appeal to the Delaware courts is in progress but officials are not
At a July 21st hearing on an air pollution permit, long time DNREC Hearing
Officer Rod Thompson said “the law was reinterpreted” to exclude members of
the public from being considered “parties”at public hearings.
“DNREC public hearings were once known for their openness to public
participation; but all this is being lost,” said Alan Muller, Executive
Director of Green Delaware. “Governor Minner and Attorney General Brady,
who are elected by the people, must be held directly responsible.”
“This is a terrible time for the environment, for justice, and for
democracy. The forces of darkness are on the march. If ever there was a
time for concerned people to speak out, this is it,” said Muller.
“They are trying to rub us out,” said Matt Del Pizzo of Delaware Audubon
The rally will feature banners and graphics, including silhouettes of
Governor Minner being lead around on a chain by lobbyists for Shell
(Motiva) and DuPont.
We expect some folks to show up with shovels and drums to make a statement
about DNREC’s “midnight dumping” scandal.
Participating organizations include Delaware Audubon, Green Delaware,
Common Cause, and Clean Air Council.
Matt Del Pizzo, Delaware Audubon, 302.218.3907
Alan Muller, Green Delaware, 302.834.3466, amuller@…