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Cleveland Trash To Energy Proposal Controversial

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 5:22 AM

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Environmental activists hope to ignite a public debate on a trash-to-energy proposal that's been on the city of Cleveland's to-do list for the last year. Ideastream's Bill Rice reports several groups are questioning construction of a so-called "gasification" plant that city officials believe will save money on trash disposal, and make money generating electric power.

Gassification is different than older trash burning technology, supporters say, in that it subjects waste to very high heat while depriving it of oxygen, producing what’s known as “syn-gas”.  That’s short for synthetic gas - a substance that is then used to power an electricity generator.  Andrew Watterson, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s Chief of Sustainability, is among a number of Cleveland officials sold on the concept, and the project - which also has a recycling component.  He acknowledges it is a new source of pollution, but says it results in a reduction of the city’s carbon footprint. 

WATTERSON:  That’s partly because….

Several activist groups say they have been unable to get detailed information on the process used in gasification.  They’re worried that the project will minimize the city’s recycling efforts, and that locating it in an urban area will subject large numbers of people to the adverse effects of pollution.  The groups have scheduled a public meeting to discuss the issue tonight.  Sandy Buchanon heads Ohio Citizen Action. 

BUCHANON:  When we look…

One of those experts is Niel Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, based in Washington D.C.  He’ll be a key speaker at the forum, and he’ll be meeting today with Watterson and other city officials. 

The public meeting will be held tonight at 7:00 at the Cleveland Environmental Center at 3500 Lorain Rd. 

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