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Viewpoint: 'Connect the dots' on incinerator

On Monday, March 8 at 7:15 p.m. a Community Leaders Meeting will be held at Cottage Grove City Hall.

As a result of the 3M proposal to burn outside waste in its incinerator, residents organized to form a group called the Independent Coalition of Concerned Cottage Grove Citizens. As residents we felt our concerns were being marginalized, so we contracted with Decision Resources to do a communitywide survey to make sure the residents had the chance to express their opinion on the proposal to 3M, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and elected officials.

The results of the community survey have been made public. Since being released there have been accusations challenging the methodology and integrity of the survey. The coalition will again have Decision Resources make a presentation on the community survey results and answer any questions about the survey process. We have invited elected officials from Cottage Grove, Hastings, the county and the state along with invitations to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and other recognized community leaders. The public is encouraged to attend.

Also, we will try to connect the dots on a very complicated issue. For example: Is just 3M's lack of solvent from its own manufacturing operations driving this permit change or is it because the original incinerator had a design heat load of 90 million Btu per hour and the new "replacement" incinerator has a design heat load of 120 million Btu per hour. Based on these numbers, the upgraded incinerator was designed to use 33 percent more energy to hold the same temperature and was designed to burn more waste than the original incinerator. Did the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency know this was happening?

A similarly designed incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, claims to be one of the largest of its type in the world. They process 120 million pounds of waste a year, almost twice what is reported by the 3M Incinerator. The current 3M Incinerator permit allows total hazardous waste to the kiln to be 23,300 pounds an hour. If the permit is changed and the door is opened to outside waste, Cottage Grove could challenge East Liverpool as the home of the largest incinerator of its type in the world. If 3M ran 23,300 pounds an hour 24 hours a day 365 days a year, they would only have to be running 60 percent of the time to challenge the Ohio incinerator for the title.

Are the emissions regulations in the current incinerator permit so high that 3M could potentially triple the volume of the original incinerator and still be in compliance?

If 3M just wants to increase volatile organic compound emissions two pounds a year and add 225 pounds of particulate, why haven't they volunteered to take last year's emission levels, add the increase and offered to lower emissions to these levels as part of the new permit?

Did you know that WRR Environmental Services Co. in Eau Claire, Wis. previously had a commercial hazardous waste incinerator? Are the waste codes listed in their last license what we will receive in Cottage Grove?

How does regulated commercial waste going to a commercial waste management facility in Wisconsin that used to be burned in WRR's commercial hazardous waste incinerator suddenly become clean solvent when it is put into a tanker and arrives at 3M Cottage Grove? Is it a magic tanker? Tap three times and say the magic words "we will do it for free" and it is for the first time non-commercial?

Please attend the meeting.

This article was submitted by Trish Thompson on behalf of the Independent Coalition of Concerned Cottage Grove Citizens.