Tulsa, OK Chooses Incineration Over Composting
August 14, 2014 — Josh
– by Jarrel Wade, August 6, 2014, Tulsa World
Trash board members voted Tuesday to begin the process of seeking bids for contractors to pick up curbside green waste and take it to the city’s burn plant.
The recently introduced plan from the Tulsa Authority for Recovery of Energy is to send green waste to the city’s burn plant permanently, essentially ending Tulsa’s curbside green-waste program as it was originally promised.
The TARE board vote authorizes staff to invite bids from contractors for board evaluation and possible acceptance at future meetings.
The vote followed discussion about several contractual obligations that hindered implementation of the new plan.
TARE officials have said their goals are to keep costs low, keep the system environmentally responsible and make the trash system simple for customers.
One problem is that the city would be forced to continue requiring that green waste be put in clear plastic bags even though it likely would go in the same trucks to the same location as trash.
The contract with the city’s haulers, NeWSolutions, requires that green waste be in a separate waste stream, TARE attorney Stephen Schuller said.
“Competitive bidders could bring a lawsuit on such a fundamental change,” he said.
Another problem discussed was TARE’s inability to seek bids for contractors to take the green waste to the city’s green-waste facility, which some board members had requested for price comparison.
Schuller said a contract between the board and the burn plant mandates that all green waste — if taken by a TARE contractor — go to the burn plant, owned by Covanta Energy.
Because the city, not a TARE contractor, has picked up green waste since the program began, it could take the yard trimmings elsewhere.
However, since the program began in October 2012, it hasn’t.
Green waste has gone to the city’s burn plant instead of to the green-waste site because of problems processing the plastic bags.
Tuesday’s meeting also focused on a presentation from Covanta Energy spokesman Matt Newman about the burn plants’ emissions being well under Environmental Protection Agency limits.
Newman said the burn plant is a net reducer of greenhouse gases, while separate gases that lead to hazardous ozone are kept to a minimum.
The burn plant accounts for 0.2 percent of Tulsa’s nitrogen oxide emissions — a precursor to ozone, he said.
In terms of emissions, Newman said, the burn plant is much better than a landfill and is competitive with a green-waste site.
“If you go to a mulch or a composting site, it depends on the technology that you employ,” Newman said regarding which option is better for the environment.
Michael Patton, executive director of Tulsa’s Metropolitan Environmental Trust, said meeting EPA regulations on emissions is not the same as recycling green waste when it comes to being green.
“Greenhouse gases are not an issue for Tulsa. Ozone is,” he said.
Tulsa has had excessive ozone pollution since at least 1990, when alerts began for the city.
July 23 was Tulsa’s first Ozone Alert day of 2014.
Officials declared four alert days in 2013; 21 in 2012; and 25 in 2011.
Patton told TARE board members they should reconsider plans to send green waste to the burn plant rather than pursue compost ideas.
“If we can reduce NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) in any way possible, including by avoiding burning green waste, I think Tulsa wins,” he said.
Tulsa wins when they decide to kick Covanta out.
There’s no reason whatsoever to burn organic materials. Focusing on ozone or nitrogen oxide is not the issue; the issue is destroying perfectly good materials instead of putting them back into the earth as nature intended.
What kills me is that all the pro-burn idiots are constantly saying “waste to energy”, yet there’s no metrics on how much energy. That’s because it’s a loss, plain and simple. Burning organic material means it’s gone. We need organic material to continue the earth’s nutrient cycles as intended.
Landfill the air, and lie about the pollution, or return the material back to its original state with nothing to hide… it’s time to reconsider, Tulsa.
TARE is not helping you, they’re screwing you.