Saturday, April 21, 2018
Opinion

Proposed biomass plant is a health threat

A Texas corporation, Florida Power Development, LLC, is applying to build a woody biomass electrical conversion incinerator project in Brooksville, 2.5 miles from the city center. Environmental experts, the American Lung Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, Florida Medical Association, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, and other health-concerned associations and groups have strongly objected to biomass plants and their impact on community health.

Plants of this nature emit unacceptable levels of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change and global warming. Such warming has the potential to enhance vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Particulate air pollution is increased through the burning of biomass, exacerbating upper respiratory illness that can be catastrophic for those with chronic lung disease. Many of our elderly and young asthmatics are particularly sensitive to air pollutants generated by such a facility.

Further increased is the release of nitrous oxides, creating ozone, a highly reactive oxidant gas. Ozone in pulmonary airways may result in chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, and wheezing; increased susceptibility to infection, increased asthma attacks, increased asthma medication use, and more visits to emergency rooms for respiratory disease.

The vehicles transporting the biomass to the plant are typically diesel and will add to the pollution index with increased toxic emissions, including carbon dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and diesel particulate matter. Other disadvantages of biomass plants include their competition for combustible materials needed by recycling plants. Recycling and composting plants prove more environmentally friendly in waste reduction strategies.

Incineration is the most toxic technology, converting materials into more noxious gaseous, liquid, and solid forms. Also, such plants tend to be a magnet for waste materials from other areas due to their requirement for combustible high BTU material. These plants tend to be costly to communities, the electricity generated is expensive, and they provide a disincentive to minimizing the production of materials that are too toxic or complex to be cost-effectively or safely recycled.

The Florida Medical Association has passed a resolution supporting the implementation of HB 7135, which requires state government to develop comprehensive programs for resource conservation, resource reuse, recycling and composting for the state of Florida. The association urges state government to adopt policies to minimize the approval and construction of new incinerators including mass-burn, gasification, plasma, pyrolysis, biomass, refuse-derived fuel, and other incinerator technologies.

Current coal use also has raised the ire of environmentalists due to issues with ash and other emission concerns. Clean coal has upped the cost of using this fuel substantially and now, with new federal regulations, costs are escalating. It would make a lot more sense to consider acceptable sources of energy such as wind, solar or natural gas with this opportunity to convert to an environmentally friendly energy source.

That is preferable to a biomass plant, which are unhealthy and specifically dangerous for many of our elderly citizens suffering from pulmonary disease and those suffering from asthma. The location of this plant, understanding the potential health and environmental risk, is simply irresponsible. The application should be denied, for health's sake.

Dr. Marc J. Yacht is the retired director of the Pasco Health Department.

Comments
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18