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International Paper Scales Back Test Tire Burn in NY

By DAVID GRAM The Associated Press

Nov. 12, 2006 - Surprising even some of its toughest critics, International Paper Co. had to scale back its test tire burn at a mill on Lake Champlain when, burning tires at one-third the allowed rate, it was bumping up against the limit for a key pollutant, officials said.

A test-burn of "tire-derived fuel," launched Tuesday at the Ticonderoga, N.Y., mill, was set up to allow up to three tons of tire chips per hour to be fed into the boiler that powers the plant's electrical generator. The generator provides steam for paper-making.

On Thursday, while consuming tire chips at a rate of one ton per hour, the plant hit its limit for the amount of particulate matter — essentially tiny particles in the air — that the boiler was emitting, said Jeffrey Wennberg, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

"They did not expect and, to be perfectly honest, our scientists did not expect" particulate levels to be so high at that feed rate, Wennberg said in a phone interview.

"We did not believe all their numbers and we felt it was a much higher likelihood that they would exceed their limits when they got to three" tons per hour, he said. But at one ton per hour, "To see numbers this high was a surprise even to us."

The company halted Thursday's three-hour test burn after two hours. It reduced its use of tire-derived fuel Friday to a half ton per hour, stopped for the weekend Friday evening, and plans to resume the test Monday, IP spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth said

Wadsworth said the company never intended to reach the limit of three tons per hour, even though its permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation allows consumption of tires at that level.

"We'd be thrilled to get a ton or a ton and a half in," she said.

Wennberg and his boss, Gov. James Douglas, have argued that IP should be required to install state-of-the-art, anti-pollution equipment before the company is allowed to burn tire chips at the mill. IP has responded that one purpose of the test is to determine what kind of anti-pollution equipment the plant needs to burn tires.

The plant's permit says the boiler may produce no more than a tenth of a pound of particulate matter per million British thermal units of heat energy it generates. The company set out to do a three-hour test Thursday at a fuel-feed level of one ton of tire chips per hour.

In the first hour, the boiler emitted 0.109 pounds of particulates - 9 percent above the limit. In hour two, it produced 0.093 pounds of particulates - 7 percent below the limit. There was no hour three, because the test was stopped.

"As we said we would throughout discussions around this trial, when monitored particulate emissions approached permitted levels, we stopped the test," IP said in a statement Friday.

The company's permit from the New York DEC allows IP to burn tire fuel at the mill for up to 14 days ending Nov. 27.

Wennberg said the way the burn has gone so far, he is beginning to doubt that it would ever yield reliable test results for several other pollutants, including zinc, mercury and other toxic heavy metals.

"They've got some tough decisions to make as to how much value they're going to derive from these efforts," he said.

SOURCE: Associated Press




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