Proposed Biomass Plant Raises Questions

By: Liza Park Email
By: Liza Park Email

The debate over a proposed biomass plant in Tallahassee is widening,
and folks speaking out are pointing to various reasons for their concerns.
Several questions surround a proposed biomass plant that would convert wood waste into gas power in Tallahassee.
Perhaps the most concerning question is whether the plant's emissions will pose a health risk to Tallahassee residents.
"This plant will emit dioxin. Dioxin is thought by many scientists to be the most harmful carcinogenic substance known to mankind," says Ronald Saff, M.D., an allergist specialist in Tallahassee who opposes the proposed plant.
The plant's proposed location is on a 21.2 acre parcel currently owned by Florida State University and located near Innovation Park, four public schools and residential areas.
"I also think though that other issues such as noise, odor and quality of life need to be addressed as well. Those are definitely important issues," says Josh Kasper who owns several properties and works within the vicinity of the proposed location of the plant.
But others say there's no imperial evidence that the plant would be harmful to people and it could actually provide some benefit to Tallahassee residents.
"Our utility bills are high. They're really high compared to a lot of places. And right now, it's 14 cents a kilowatt hour. These guys claim they can give us 7 cents a kilowatt hour," explains Joseph Cain, PhD.D. who represents the Tallahassee Scientific Society. Cain adds that the society is not siding with those who want the plant or those who who oppose it.
And Tallahassee officials say a biomass plant fits into the city's green initiatives.
"Renewable energy is one of the major areas in the green initiative that we're that we're looking at," says David Byrne, the City of Tallahassee Director of Energy Services.
A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection says the department has spent months investigating the plant's plan.
Eleven Tallahassee residents have filed petitions for an administration hearing against the plant... that's up from three just a week ago.
The D-E-P will decide whether any hearings will be granted.

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