Stop Chestnut Hill from turning Connecticut into the largest garbage dump site in the world

There is a proposal to build the largest garbage dump in the world in Waterbury, CT by a Massachusetts firm, Chestnut Hill Bio-Energy. As reported online at the Providence Journal on May 9th:

Chestnut Hill Bio-Energy has signed an agreement to buy the site of a former factory in Waterbury and convert it into what it says would be the country’s (actually the larges in the world) largest food waste-to-energy plant. The company says the plant would be able to produce electricity for 10,000 homes … The plant would accept 625 tons of garbage a day … generate 12 megawatts of electricity, which it would sell to Connecticut Light & Power … [and] … would also create 40 to 50 jobs. 

The Hartford Courant also posted an article about the proposed plant on May 19th:

An urban location was what Chestnut Hill needed, according to Michael Maynard, a principal of the group, because the group was looking for two things — major highway access and a place “where all the people are.” 

“You want to be where the people are because the people are where the waste is,” he said.

The deal, at an undisclosed price, has some wondering whether a new generation of “green” power generators can revive some of the other factories across Connecticut that have been vacant for decades. It remains to be seen whether neighborhood opposition will prevent this and similar projects from moving ahead.

While on the surface, this seems like a great idea to convert brownfields into plants that transpose our food waste into energy, there is a growing opposition:

* Increased Traffic on Connecticut’s Highways and Resulting Smog. This plant will draw over 50-65 tractor trailer trucks per day on route 84 and onto city streets. The pollution from these trucks will add to Waterbury’s existing burden (Waterbury had higher rates for particulate matter than Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Boston in 2007 data).

* Odors and Potential Toxic Fumes. Garbage plants have been plagued with odors throughout the country. Chestnut Hill will be bringing in 625 tons per day of food waste with a truck containing 11 tons of garbage every 11 minutes into Connecticut’s neighborhoods and the downtown Waterbury area. The odor consultant that Chestnut Hill hired “helped” a plant in the Bronx NYC who is now in court due to odors problems.

* Untested Scale/Size of Plant. Chestnut Hill’s plans for the Waterbury plant will be the largest garbage plant in world and will take in over 212,000 tons per year. This technology has never been tested at this scale in North America, let alone in an urban location or in Connecticut.

* Lack of Access to Chestnut Hills Track Record. Chestnut Hill has not provided any information about their track record on running a plant like this. They did operate another facility in New Jersey that was shut down due to problems and owe $2,000,000 in fines. Waterbury citizens deem they have a right to know that whoever is coming to their community knows what they are doing.

* Waterbury’s Greenway. Chestnut Hill’s proposal is to build this garbage plant right next to the proposed greenway that will run through the city along the Naugatuck River. After all the time and energy that has been spent to clean up the river and move Waterbury forward, we should not move backward with a garbage plant.

connecticut legislators are standing firmly behind Waterbury’s citizens in opposition to Chestnut Hills proposed garbage plant by passing Senate Bill 3 (unanimously in the Senate) and are now urging Governor Rell to sign the bill.

Sen. Joan Hartley recently added in a press release:

“[T]he food to waste energy plant … has unproven technology … at the scale being proposed … It would require at full capacity 54 garbage tractor trailer trucks (8-14 wheelers) coming into the … city … 6:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday using the most congested and problematic segment of the I-84 Mixmaster interchange. 

“This would result in 660 tons of raw food garbage (227,000 tons annually) coming into a very densely populated area of the city … within close … range of more than 6 schools including 2 magnet schools … 6 churches, a 2500 seat performing arts entertainment venue, a university regional campus and 2 hospitals. It is also located within several blocks of the recently cited 96 megawatt turbine combustion power plant and an 18 million gallon natural liquefied gas storage tank.

“This is not the case of … Not In My Back Yard. This proposed siting would be a clear violation of H.B. 5145 An Act Concerning Environmental Justice Communities And The Storage of Asbestos-Containing, which was approved by the General Assembly in 2008. When is enough, enough for one community.”

I think it is clear that everyone in Connecticut should unite and call Governor Rell and urge her to sign SB3 and stop Chestnut Hill from turning Connecticut into the largest garbage dump site in the world.

CALL GOVERNOR RELL TODAY AND TELL HER TO SIGN SB3 at 860-566-4840 or toll-free 800-406-1527 or TDD 860-524-7397.

Val McCall
Organizing for Connecticut

Visit Organizing for Connecticut

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