Incineration effective, cleanAfter reading the articles in the Bulletin on Feb. 10 about the 3M incinerator, I feel a need to respond.
By: Roland Anderson, Cottage Grove, South Washington County Bulletin
After reading the articles in the Bulletin on Feb. 10 about the 3M incinerator, I feel a need to respond. (It is 3 a.m. and I’m unable to get to sleep because of the articles in the Bulletin.)
My name is Roland Anderson. Our family moved to Cottage Grove over 21 years ago and during this time I have been a full-time union employee at the 3M incinerator. I have worked in many positions at the incinerator and am currently one of the four lead operators that work in our control room.
The primary function of the lead operator is to safely monitor and control all processes involved with the incineration of “hazardous wastes” at the facility, and to be in compliance with all state and federal regulations established in our permits.
The most difficult part of this article is where to begin and where to end.
First, I will give you some background on myself. I grew up on a small dairy farm in Rice Lake, Wis., went to the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and graduated in 1970 with a degree in agricultural education and biology. I hope to retire in a year or so with no political aspirations, only hobby woodworking and volunteer work.
Now, to address some issues in the Bulletin. First of all, the employees and I do not appreciate being portrayed as some horrible caged demon about to be released on the residents of Cottage Grove.
Incineration is the most effective method of destroying organic waste produced in the manufacturing of a large range of products used in everyday life.
In order to generate the incineration temperatures needed, 3M has used many of its solvent wastes as a source of heat. With increased oil costs, these solvents are being recycled more and a greater reliance on natural gas and fuel oil is needed to meet the fuel needs. There is not an infinite supply of natural gas and fuel oil, and any effort on the part of 3M to conserve these non-renewable fuel sources should be appreciated by people who use gas and electricity to supply energy to their homes. I do not look forward to the future when we run out of these energy sources. Will we be able to burn coal and wood like our ancestors did?
3M has spent millions of dollars to put in high tech pollution control equipment that minimizes emissions. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recognizes how good a job 3M has done and therefore was receptive to the proposal to bring in outside solvents that would be used as fuel and incinerated in an environmentally protective means.
All waste received at the 3M incinerator is continually sampled and analyzed to meet permit requirements. Each tanker is individually tested for Btu value, metals and chlorine before it can be burned. Outside bulk solvents would also be subjected to the same tests before incineration. If it did not meet the standards established in state and federal permit regulations, it could not be burned at the 3M incinerator.
In regard to the scientific survey that was conducted, how many people were given all the relevant information needed to make an objective decision?
It seems like more emotional decisions are being made on the controversial information being given out by one or more select individuals. I believe public opinion should count if it is made on credible information not distorted by political agendas.
As far as air and water quality in the Cottage Grove area, it would be very difficult to blame air quality on the 3M incinerator when you consider our proximity to the metropolitan area and other industries.
Water quality is another issue, but not created by the incinerator. Maybe if the incinerator had been in existence 20 years earlier we would not have the current water quality issues that are drawing so much attention to 3M right now because of old landfill disposal sites.
The last issue is about statements regarding 3M not creating jobs. This proposal to burn outside solvents will help preserve jobs at the incinerator. There are a lot of highly qualified people employed at the 3M incinerator that do a great job 24 hours a day. It would be a shame to lose some of these people. We have lost enough jobs overseas. Just look at our present economy. I personally extend an invitation to any Bulletin staff member and any Cottage Grove resident to come over and take a tour of the incinerator. I would even give you the tour.