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December 2006

International Paper stops test burn

A serious dispute arose between the State of Vermont and International Paper over a plan by the company to do a test burn of used tires at its Ticonderoga plant in upstate New York.

Vermont strenuously opposed the test burn, challenging it at every possible level. However, the opposition, led by recently re-elected Republican Governor Jim Douglas was unable to prevent the test from occurring.

International Paper began the test burn on November 6 and abandoned it on November 14, saying that they had determined it would not be economically feasible to burn tire derived fuel (TDF) at this time.

IP had hoped to burn TDF at a rate as high as three tons per hour, but at one ton per hour their particulate emissions testing showed them bumping up against their permit limit of 0.1 lbs/mmbtu.

IP also did particulate tests at a half-ton per hour feed rate and one quarter ton per hour feed rate. These tests came back at 0.1 lbs/mmbtu and .09 lbs/mmbtu respectively.

Vermont had taken several legal steps to oppose the test burn.

“It would seem that the biggest long-term implication of the test burn is that International Paper has decided that it is not economically feasible to burn TDF at the Ticonderoga Mill,” says Jeffrey Wennerg, Commissioner, Department of Environment Conservation. “Generally, the legal implications for states regarding the test burn are still being determined. For instance, Vermont filed a petition raising a number of legal issues related to the test burn. That petition is pending before the EPA and the State has a statutory right to appeal EPA’s determination to the Second Circuit.

“In addition,” he adds. “Vermont is appealing a New York court’s finding that NYSDEC acted lawfully when it determined that the proposed test burn was exempt from environmental review under New York’s SEQRA. These pending legal actions could set precedents that will affect similar disputes in other states.”

The United States EPA did not intervene on Vermont’s behalf.

“The EPA decided not to object to the permit that NY DEC issued – over Vermont’s objections,” says Wennberg. “International Paper has now stopped the tire burn and Vermont remains committed to its original opinion. IP should have the option to burn alternative fuels in their boiler, but only with the appropriate pollution controls in place.”

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